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There are plenty of reasons why more and more workers and students have decided to attend grad school over the years — whether it’s to meet a job requirement that used to require only an undergraduate degree, starting a career change, following a passion, aiming at a salary increase, etc.

However, grad school is still a huge time and financial commitment that needs careful consideration. Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself before deciding if graduate school is the best choice for you:

Why do I want to go to graduate school?

This is the time for you to sit down and have a real and honest self-reflection. There are plenty of valid reasons to attend grad school for both career and personal reasons. However, you should have at least one specific reason why you want or need to go to graduate school. Graduate school takes a lot of time, effort and responsibility. Unless you’re motivated by a specific reason you might regret your choice to enroll later.

Am I ready for another 2+ years of education?

Just because many master’s degrees take less time to complete than an undergraduate degree that doesn’t mean they’re less work. Think about your work, family, or other commitments you have within the next two years or longer. There are many graduate degrees created for people with busy schedules. However, you should critically think about if you’re at the right time in your life to take on more school.

How will I pay for it?

Like any amount of college, graduate school life is expensive. Tuition, books, living expenses and other miscellaneous costs can add up. This is especially true if you have no one else to rely on financially but yourself. You should check out page 14 for ways you can finance your graduate degree. In the meanwhile, try to brush up on financial literacy skills like budgeting and learning how loans work.

What can I do with my degree?

What could you do with your newly earned masters or doctorate degree? What kind of doors could this degree open up for you? If you have student loans from graduate school, could you use your new degree to pay them off? These are all great questions to think about when analyzing the benefits of pursuing graduate school. Do some research on what kind of opportunities you can get with the specific degree you’re thinking about. Try talking with some LinkedIn connections that have the degree you’d like and ask what it did for them.

What’s my end goal?

In 10 years, where do you hope to be in life? Would this graduate degree you’re thinking about helping you get there? There are a lot of ways to accomplish your goals. So, try and figure out whether going to grad school is the best way to do that. Do some thorough research into the graduate program and degree you’re thinking about. See if graduates of the degree end up with the career you’re hoping for.

Hopefully these questions, and any more you need to ask yourself along the way, give you confidence in your choice about grad school.

Graphic by: Juana Garcia

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