Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Making the decision to attend graduate or professional school can be overwhelming. This week in Bucky's Career Corner we'll discuss how to decide if grad school is right for you and how to pick the right program.
Before you decide on a program you need to determine if grad school or professional school (medicine, law, MBA, etc.) is right for you. Two important considerations:
1. Why are you going?
If you are going because it will earn you more money, make your more marketable, help you switch careers, or because you love the subject you'll be studying and want to advance your knowledge of that subject (usually at a cost), then grad school might be right for you.
If you're going to grad school because your parents want you to, your friends are doing so, or as a means to avoid the job market than you should reconsider. If you're using graduate school to avoid job searching or to buy yourself some more time before the "real world" you will find yourself back in the same spot after you finish your grad program, trying to figure out your career path and looking for a job - except now you'll be in debt with a specialized degree that isn't a good career fit for you or isn't marketable. Besides, many of the same skills you would use to look for a job (conducting research, writing application materials, interviewing, etc.) are the same skills you would use to apply for graduate programs.
2. Will going to grad school benefit you? Is it worth the time and cost?
More education doesn't always necessarily mean more job opportunities. Do your research to find out if getting an advanced degree in your field is worth the time and money. Find out if there are other, better, more cost-effective ways to build experience in your field. Or, find out if there is a way to fund your education via an employer, grants, assistantships, etc.
If You Decide to Go
If graduate or professional school is right for you then it's time to consider different programs. When evaluating a graduate program consider some of these factors:
- Faculty expertise and coursework - Do the faculty specialize in areas that interest you? Will the coursework prepare you for your next steps?
- Career services and resources and placement for program graduates - Are alumni of the program getting internships and jobs? Are they jobs that you would want?
- Reputation of the program
- Alumni network
Once you have a short list of programs you're considering you'll need to begin preparing for the application process. Begin soliciting recommendations
, preparing for entrance exams
, etc.) and preparing your personal statements
Join us next week, when we review the many benefits of using LinkedIn!