5 Things I Wish I Knew When Deciding on Grad School

Deciding to go to grad school is a big deal. You’ve spent hours completing applications, gathered the best recommenders for your recommendations and taken standardized tests for your desired program. This all takes a lot of effort and strategy. I did all of this and now eight years after I started the process there are a lot of things, I wish I knew when deciding on grad school. Here they are:

Career Outcomes

The job market in recent years has been challenging. Entry level jobs want X years of work experience, Y graduate degree and pays Z salary. The equation doesn’t make sense! You have a graduate degree and you aren’t making a liveable salary. I highly recommend that you research career outcomes from your potential degree. Some graduate degrees even get their ranking basedoff of career outcomes of graduates.

Pick a Program Where You Want to End Up

I applied to 14 grad school programs and I picked the one farthest from my friends, family and where I wanted to settle down. Picking a school where you want to settle down is important. The biggest alumni network for that school will be there and they’ll have the most connections to employers there too. If you know you want to live in a specific city, go to grad school there! You’ll have a better experience during and after.

Student Loans Are Not Worth It

This could be primarily an American phenomenon, but student loan debt isn’t worth it. You never realize how much it impacts your life until you graduate and are trying to live your life. Having to pay X dollars a month for loans is horrible. You should try to work for a few years and save money, go to school part-time and work, or try to go to a program fully funded. It may be hard while you’re in school, but afterwards you’ll feel so much better.

Get a Broad Degree

We all have a dream about what our career will look like. However, the job market doesn’t necessarily match the degree or career. Get a degree that provides you with skills that will always be needed in the market or are applicable to many markets. The worst feeling is getting a degree and then never being able to get a job with it and not having skills for other jobs. You do not want to feel like you wasted your time and money in grad school.

Work Before You Go to Grad School

I immediately went from undergrad to grad school. I had done internships and had summer jobs, but I never worked full-time. In hindsight, you should work for a few years and see what you like and don’t like before going to grad school. You’ll have a better idea about what you want to study or how X degree will help get you into Y job. Working different jobs teaches you a lot and helps you figure out what you want. A 22-year-old right out of undergrad doesn’t necessarily know what they want. Work experience is important.

I hope that these tips are helpful and allow you to make a decision that’s best for you. Grad school is a great way to grow and learn, but you should do what’s best for you.

Are you thinking about going to grad school? Comment below with the program you’re thinking about!