Is Grad School the Solution?
By Lori Bielek
Are you prepared to attend graduate school? There are many
reasons why people decide to go to graduate or professional
school and some reasons are stronger than others.
Here are some of the things you should consider before
deciding to attend:
Need: What kind of position are you interested in
pursuing after graduation? Does it require a graduate
Desire: Are your interests compatible with the
activities you will be involved in during advanced
training? Are you motivated to explore the detail of that
particular specialty area?
Awareness: Are you aware of the different types of
positions held by individuals with advanced degrees in your
area of interest? Will this degree actually prepare you to
get the job you are seeking?
Skill and fortitude: Will your academic skill and
personal motivation get you through the intensity and pace
of graduate study?
Timing: Are you ready to commit a few more years of
your life to your studies with little or no money coming
Cost: Can you to afford this graduate education?
Will you be able to get a well-paying job after graduation
that will allow you to pay back your loans, if necessary?
Are you prepared?
It is important to understand that most graduate programs are
going to be significantly different from your undergraduate
experience. You are generally regarded as a
professional-in-training and are expected to behave as such.
This means there is little room for excuses and slacking off.
As an undergraduate you may have been able to skate by in
some classes with little effort and poor attendance. This is
much less likely to be the case in graduate or professional
school. Your professors assume that you are in the program to
study and become a professional in the field, not polish up
on your partying skills or catch up with your Facebook
Your grad school professors are less likely to accept excuses
for late or poor quality assignments. You will be expected to
attend every class and be an active participant. Professors
and your academic advisors are crucial partners in your
graduate school success and if you tick them off, they will
be less likely to help you score internships or write letters
of recommendation for you.
Your classmates can be your greatest source of support in
graduate school. However, if you are poorly prepared for
class and do not take it seriously, your classmates will be
annoyed. They will then be less willing to work with you on
projects and papers that are necessary for your success in
the program. Your graduate classmates are also important
people to network with. If they view you as unreliable
and unprofessional, they will not be willing to refer you for
So your decision is to NOT go right now
Perhaps you have decided that graduate school is not the best
choice for you at this time. This could be for a variety of
reasons. Don?t worry, that does not mean that you will
never go. Many graduate and professional schools prefer to
enroll students who have a few years of work
experience. Working during these years after undergrad
will be useful for you to learn more about your career field.
I also recommend you seek out various educational
opportunities, like free or low-cost community-based courses.
In addition, your employer may financially support or even
provide continuing education training. Always keep your eyes
and your mind open to non-traditional educational
YES, you are ready to go now
Great, so you have done your research on what your graduate
school experience will be like and also looked into whether
you will be employable after you graduate. Here are some tips
for grad school success from a recent graduate of a master
Seek out programs that are a good fit for you and offer the
financial support you need.
Get connected with a study buddy (or two). Connecting
with someone who has a similar work ethic to you can really
help you get through the rigorous schedule and work load.
Talk with people who have been in the same graduate program
for a year or more. They can give you invaluable
advice about the professors and how to handle your upcoming
Reach out to your professors. They are invested in
you becoming a successful professional in the field.
They likely have some wisdom and advice to share that will
help you be successful.
When you are ready to attend and you know what you are getting
into, graduate school can be one of the most enlightening and
challenging experiences of your life.
Lori Bielek is the Marketing and Technology Coordinator at
University of Delaware?s (UD) Career Services Center where she
advises students in the arts and sciences through all steps of
their career development. You can connect with Lori
through LinkedIn or her UD Career Services Twitter account
The Student Branding Blog, part of the Personal Branding Network, is the #1 resource for career and personal branding advice for high school, college and graduate students.
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