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Should I go to Grad School? 3 Questions Hold the Answer

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Graduate Studies

For some, pursuing a graduate degree was never a question. Medical students, law students, anyone looking to teach in higher education, and others knew from the moment they selected their field that an undergraduate degree was not enough. Those who do not necessarily need a graduate degree to work in their field, though, may have to grapple with the question of, “Should I go to grad school?”

If you are wondering whether or not you should pursue a graduate degree, take some time to answer these three questions:

  1. Do I really want to go?
  2. What will I do with a grad school degree?
  3. Is anything preventing me from going to grad school?

Once you answer these three questions, you will be ready to answer the big one: Should I go to grad school?

Question #1: Do I really want to go to grad school?

If you think about the question, “Should I go to grad school?” people might assume you already want to go. However, there are other reasons why undergraduate students consider enrolling in more education after graduation.

For some, grad school can seem like an easy option because they do not know what else to do. Joining the workforce right after graduation can be intimidating.

However, students should not go to grad school as an escape route. Education past the undergraduate level is a major investment of time, energy, and money. If you do not want the returns of a graduate degree for their own sake, the investment does not justify delaying professional work.

Pursuing a graduate degree is a big commitment, and you should not choose to go to grad school, simply because you do not feel prepared to enter the workforce.

On the other hand, you should go to grad school if you want the returns of a grad school degree and you are ready to make the necessary investment of time, money, and effort. 

Ronni Darnell '23 knew she wanted to go to grad school since her freshman year. She loves studying through her double major of Writing and Communication and would love to continue working in the academic setting.

When she considers a question like, “Should I go to grad school?” Ronni knows that her answer is yes.

“I think about what I’m passionate about and what I want to do after college,” Ronni explains:

“I love learning with people who love learning; just seeing people really passionate about certain topics and just being able to show their love for God in that type of way… I love writing and I love books so that’ll just kind of keep me in that area; and I feel like it will just put me where I want to be regarding a career, whether it is being a professor or just doing some other type of publishing work or writing.”

If you, like Ronni, know that you want to go to grad school, then it may be right for you. To find out for sure, you will also want to consider what you might, or might not, be able to do with a graduate degree.

Question #2: What will I do with a graduate degree?

A graduate degree can have many different purposes, depending on your goals for education. A graduate degree may be the vital to your dream job. For instance, if you want to become doctor, a lawyer, or a college professor. Alternatively, your biggest reward from the years of undergraduate study may be simply the knowledge you will gain.

The answer to “Should I go to grad school?” depends on how you will use your degree. If your plans include precisely nothing, then you may want to pursue other paths after completing your undergraduate program.  However, if you expect to see significant personal and professional growth as a result of a graduate degree, you should consider enrolling.

Ronni knows she should go to grad school, and she has a few ideas about what she will do with her degree. She plans to study writing and communication.

“It’s definitely something I want to do, because I love academia and I love what I would be learning in those programs,” says Ronni, “but then I also think it would [help] if I do want to go on and be a professor or work in academia… Also just really grounding my ideas of writing and how it goes into different industries.”

Even if you are not interested in pursuing academia as a career or for personal benefit, there are still ample reasons why you should go to grad school.

For example, you may have a better chance of being hired or receiving higher pay if you can include a graduate degree on your resume. The monetary benefits of grad school depend, of course, on your field. With a little research, you can learn how this level of education could help your career. Then you will come closer to answering, “Should I go to grad school?”

Once you decide grad school is worth pursuing, you are ready to ask yourself the third question.

Question #3: Could challenges prevent me from going to grad school?

Even if you really want to go grad school, and even if you know what you would do with a grad school degree – certain circumstances could present obstacles to your higher education journey.

You may choose to prioritize your financial resources on other things. Graduate school will require more or less of those resources, after all, depending on the grad school/program you select and the financial aid you acquire. For many, the financial strain of graduate school is a significant deterent.

However, if you earn a graduate assistantship you could potentially enjoy up to full tuition remittance as well as a modest stipend. You can also pursue a grad school scholarship from within or outside of your school. Many different types of scholarships and grants exist, so you have a real chance of finding an appropriate one for you.

Even if you settle financial concerns, do not underestimate other challenges to completing a grad school degree.  Many of the difficulties of undergraduate education will follow you in your new studies. Troubles like stress, burnout, and lack of time might become even more challenging as a grad student.

Ronni is focusing on overcoming the challenge of balancing studies and relationships. Recently engaged to be married, she wants the ability to invest in her new family. The pressures of grad school will push her to work harder to make those investments.

Yet in the face of challenges, Ronni is ready to excel. She is confident in her answer to the question, “Should I go to grad school?”

While it may be a challenge, it is not impossible to thrive in grad school even as you juggle the many responsibilities of your studies, family, friends, and work.


Before Making the Final Decision, Seek Out Trustworthy Advice

Answering these three questions should give you a good idea of whether or not you should go to grad school.  Then again, a few of your questions might need some answers before you can be sure about grad school. 

“It’s hard to know… for sure this is what I’m going to be doing,” Ronni admits, “but I know it’s what I want to be doing.” 

Ronni points out that “really investigating the why’s behind what you’re doing,” is important. To help your investigation, she suggests you ask people around you for advice.

There are many opportunities to receive advice at Geneva College. Talk to your professors, advisor, and even our Center for Calling and Career (CCC). They can help you work through the considerations of going to grad school if you are still not sure what to do.

You can also talk with your pastor, your family, and your friends, because their advice might be very valuable as you evaluate this decision.

Whoever you ask for advice, talking through your thoughts can help you decide whether or not you should go. With their help and the answers to the three questions above, you are ready to move forward with confidence – whether you go to grad school or choose another path.

Going to Geneva will allow you to complete a grad school degree in Higher Education, Cybersecurity, Counseling, or Business Administration. Let us know if you are interested in pursuing grad school education in our program. The answer to “Should I go to grad school?” could be “Yes, at Geneva College.”

Kailee Boylan '23

Opinions expressed in the Geneva Blog are those of its contributors and do not necessarily represent the opinions or official position of the College. The Geneva Blog is a place for faculty and contributing writers to express points of view, academic insights, and contribute to national conversations to spark thought, conversation, and the pursuit of truth, in line with our philosophy as a Christian, liberal arts institution.

Feb 8, 2022