It’s your senior year. You may be working on a senior capstone project, interning in your field, or organizing a club. But what happens after you graduate? You may not be thinking that far into the future, but if graduate school is right for you, it is best to decide sooner rather than later! Application deadlines can be as early as the fall semester, so take some time to consider if graduate school is the right option for you.
Evaluate Your Job Goals and Your Industry
First, do a little bit of research into your field. What types of positions are you interested in within your degree program? Or, are you interested in positions outside of your degree? Depending on what your current or ultimate job goal is, you may need to pursue higher education. For example, some fields like psychology require multiple degrees. Other fields like teaching may not require it, but tend to pay more if you have a higher level of education. However, not every job benefits from additional education. In other fields, too much education could overqualify you! Conduct research online by contacting your career center, and by conducting informational interviews to determine if graduate school fits in with your career goals. Be sure to weigh your potential earnings with your potential debt!
Identify Your Personal Desire
For some, 12 years of education plus an additional four years of college is enough. You may not want to see another textbook for the rest of your life. Maybe you just want a break from the stressors of student life for a year or two. It is definitely important to consider if you are mentally prepared for an additional two (or more) years of education immediately after your undergraduate degree.
Another important element is to make sure you aren’t seeking higher education to avoid the job hunt. This could backfire in the future, especially if you switch your area of study in higher education; you could appear unsure, unconfident, or again, overqualified.
Research Graduate Programs
Finally, if you have identified graduate school as a possibility, look into relevant programs. Are there related programs near you, or across the country? How competitive is admission? What do graduates from there typically move on to do afterwards? What is the tuition cost? All these factors could have a hefty impact on whether or not you choose to pursue graduate school immediately after your Bachelor’s degree.
Choosing whether or not to go to graduate school is a big decision, so take your time and consider all the above factors. Whatever you decide, be sure that it is consistent with your long-term career goals.