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Deciding to Go to Graduate School

One of the poorest reasons for pursuing a graduate degree is because you do not know what else to do. Liberal arts graduates often believe they are unprepared for the world of work, and the best way to prepare for a job is through advanced study. For certain career paths, further study is necessary. However, it is important to realize that liberal arts graduates are employable. You can get a good job if you want one!

The most frequently given reasons for dropping out of graduate school are: length of time required, poor academic preparation, dislike of concentrated work, expense, and realization that one was not cut out for academic life. You can avoid these pitfalls by honestly answering the questions below:

  • Is graduate school right for me?
  • What do I want to do with my life?
  • What are both my short term and long term goals and are they realistic?
  • Is graduate study necessary for me to accomplish my goals?
  • How will graduate or professional school affect my future?
  • Am I ready to tackle the rigors of a graduate program?
  • Do I have the ability and interest to be successful in graduate school?
  • Why am I planning to attend graduate school?
  • What do I hope to gain from the experience?
  • Have I explored the career chances available at every educational level?

Graduate school will require diligence and dedication. You will put in more study hours than you did as an undergraduate. You are likely to be in smaller, more competitive classes, and your instructors will be more demanding. All of your classes will center around one subject – hopefully a subject you enjoy. You will be successful in that kind of environment only if you are there for some well thought out reasons.

Some careers require graduate study. It’s not possible to be a clinical psychologist, for example, without an advanced degree. The same is true if you plan to enter college teaching, biomedical research, and any of hundreds of other fields. For these careers, it’s not a matter of whether you should continue your studies but when.

For other careers, a graduate degree may not be a requirement but may be looked upon favorably by employers. People who do graduate work in these areas do so with the hope of securing a better job or earning a higher salary. These are certainly good reasons for entering graduate school, but be sure the field is one which appeals to you. A graduate degree can take you only so far before your own knowledge and ability in the area are put to the test.

Some people enter graduate school out of a desire to do something special for their community. This is certainly an excellent reason to want to continue in school, but the same cautions apply. Those who can make the most difference in their communities are those who are really ready to devote themselves one hundred percent to their studies.

Finally, some people enter graduate school out of a strong interest in the subject. For these people, class assignment regularly inspire them to find out more about the topic. They read books and articles in the field over and above class requirements. They enjoy talking to their professors and classmates about topics covered in class. If this sounds like you, then your plans for graduate study may be right on target.

Choosing a Graduate Program »