Pros and Cons of Going to Graduate School
By Stella Ko, M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology
Category: Academic Success
First of all, the pros and cons of getting a graduate degree can be very different depends on majors, career trends of certain professions, budget, locations, and other personal concerns. Here are just some general benefits and disadvantages for you to consider.
1. Greater earning power.
This is a popular reason why people go to grad school. However, getting a grad degree is a very serious commitment when you think about the time and money you’ll be spending. Thus, this should not be your only reason to pursue a grad degree.
2. More career opportunities.
A grad degree will enable you to work professionally in certain fields of study such as psychology, social work, or healthcare. It can also open up opportunities for future promotions.
3. Career transition.
Some graduate degree seekers successfully change their careers by getting an advanced degree.
4. Research opportunities.
Not all the undergraduate programs provide students chances to explore their potential and interests in research. Master’s and doctoral students will usually be matched with a professor as their academic advisor who guides them through the development of research projects via meetings, lab work, data collection and analysis, and academic writing.
5. Teaching opportunities.
Most doctoral and some master’s students will be offered chances to teach undergraduate level courses. If you’re interested in teaching college students at a university or college, going to grad school will be your first step to realize your dream.
Five Reasons NOT to Go to Grad School
1. Highly competitive.
Graduate programs have much fewer spots than undergraduate programs. Even if you are accepted by the program, there may or may not be a guarantee of a graduate assistant position (with includes a tuition fee waiver), enough grant money, and adequate research/teaching opportunities.
2. Enables the “professional student” mindset.
Some students keep pursing multiple degrees in different fields of study due to the fear of leaving school and going out into the workforce.
3. You hate research.
Not all graduate programs require their students to complete a master’s thesis or a dissertation. But it may be very stressful if you have no interest in reading and writing papers on a daily basis, spending hours on experiments, or observing samples to keep records. An alternative way may be applying to the programs with a focus on clinical work or professional practice.
4. Financial stress.
Graduate schools can be very expensive without a guarantee of a graduate assistant position, tuition fee waiver, or research grant. Moreover, you may graduate with a large debt that pushes you into accepting any job after graduation out of necessity.
5. No guarantee of higher salary/better jobs.
Getting a grad degree does not 100% link to a job with a much higher salary than you are getting now. Also, if you receive a degree in a certain academic area, your job options will be limited because finding work outside of teaching or research may be difficult.