In some disciplines, having a graduate degree is a necessity for getting a “career” job. That does not mean you should dive right in immediately after completing your undergrad degree. Just make sure you have a good reason for going. Some of the reasons below are more valid than others, but they are all common reasons for which people attend grad schools.
Reasons to Go to Graduate School
1. Greater earning power. This is a popular reason why people go to grad school. However, it should not be the only reason, since getting a grad degree is a very serious commitment.
2. Advance your career. A grad degree can open up a wider array of career opportunities: in psychology, social work, healthcare, for example.
3. Career change. Many people are finding their current careers unrewarding. An advanced degree can help transition to another career—whether out of desire or necessity.
4. Enhance your education. Graduate schools can provide opportunities to explore theories you may have about a topic.
5. Get community recognition. If you explore your theories and discover something new, you will get recognition for it.
Reasons Not to Go to Graduate School
Now for the flipside. Completing a grad degree has many rewards, as indicated above. However, there are also many reasons not to go.
1. Highly competitive. Graduate programs always have fewer spots than undergraduate programs. There’s competition for seats, research positions, grant money, and often as a result, departmental politics.
2. Enables the “professional student” mindset. Some students just don’t want to leave school. One of the reasons for this is said to be a fear of going out into the workforce.
3. Requires ability to set priorities. Successfully completing a grad degree requires a great deal of discipline and priority setting. This can be a strain on the family and personal relationships, not to mention yourself.
4. Relationship strains. If you’re married, housing might be an issue. You might be offered a grad/research assistant position and free tuition but no accommodations for your spouse in campus housing.
5. Stressful. Emotionally exhausting. Completing a graduate degree, especially a Ph.D., requires emotional maturity.