Leah asks via Instagram: Should I go to graduate school?
This is a question I get frequently and I have to say it is a tough question to answer because there are so many variables to consider. Here are my top three:
Can I afford it? This is the biggest question. Grad school is expensive. And unless you have tons of money saved up or are rich, you will have to take out loans. And if you're considering grad school most likely you were in undergraduate school where you might have already accumulated some debt. So you have to ask yourself if you're financially able to take on more debt AND support yourself if you are unable to work during school. Look for grant money or fellowships, that was the only way I was able to go to graduate school. The program I entered was full-time, so no time for outside work—therefore, the fellowship, which included a stipend, really helped me.
Is it necessary? You have to ask yourself if your career path or scholarly interests require a masters degree. Graduate school gives you access to many resources and mentors that are difficult, but not entirely impossible, to obtain outside of this kind of academic setting. Some disciplines do require a masters degree if you want to teach, pursue certain leadership roles, or reach a certain position. Do your research and determine if going back to school is necessary or if you can get by by dedicating time to learning on your own.
How will it impact my life? This is really important. Going to graduate school is a challenge. It's supposed to be. You will be pushed and pulled, you will question "what am I doing here" and you will cry, not sleep, not eat, and work your butt off. To me, it was all worth it, but you have to figure out if you are ready for that kind of commitment for at minimum two years.
Consider the following:
Do you have a support system? If not find it.
Living situation if you have to move? (That's more money.)
Do you have a family to support? How will graduate school impact my family?
So these are the initial questions. Now let me share why graduate school worked for me. Read more...