In many ways, grad school is more challenging than college or university. Master’s degree programs build on concepts and skills that you have learned in your undergrad. They focus more on making new discoveries and exploring concepts on a deeper level as opposed to learning from what other people have already discovered. More than that, studying in grad school is often more intense and requires more time than when you were taking your bachelor’s degree.
Despite all these hardships, a post-graduate degree can provide many benefits to your life, both personal and career-wise. But before you dive head-first into this new chapter, here are the signs to look out for to know if you’re truly ready to pursue grad school:
You have a solid plan for your studies and career
When you were younger, you may not have had the luxury of time when it comes to choosing a career path. At high school age, few people have a clear idea of what career they want to pursue in the future. But now that you’ve finished your bachelor’s degree and have had a taste of the “real world”, you likely have a more solid image of what you want your future to look like. Apart from that, you have more than enough time to think about what you want to study and what you want to do with your degree in the future.
So, for instance, if you are set on taking a Master’s degree in Business Administration online to catalyze your career growth, it’s a sign that you are likely ready to take the next step.
You are ready for the studying and research
As we’ve mentioned before, post-graduate degrees require a lot more time and effort when it comes to studying. Although you are taking way fewer classes than you were in undergrad, each class in a master’s program is often labor-intensive and imposes a lot of expectations. Furthermore, your professors will provide guidance on your studies, but you would have to do a lot of the work yourself as a post-grad student.
That said, determine if you’re ready for the academic challenge before you enroll in grad school. This means being physically, emotionally, and mentally ready to put in the long hours of intensive studying and research, mostly by yourself.
You can juggle your time between work and school
Few post-grad students leave their job entirely to pursue a master’s or doctorate, and this is likely your case if you have to support yourself through school, as well as other financial responsibilities. Another important factor to consider before entering grad school is how well you can manage your time between work and school. Both aspects will require your utmost attention in order for you to succeed, and if you aren’t sure if you can handle both simultaneously, then maybe grad school will have to wait for now.
You are financially prepared
Unless you have a scholarship grant or some other way to go to grad school for free, then you have to think about the expenses it would take to finish your degree. Having an emergency fund is always a great place to start. You never know what can happen in the future, and it’s best to have a buffer of readily available cash instead of pouring all of your finances into your schooling.
More than that, you also have to plan for grad school expenses other than the tuition, including testing fees, textbooks, work samples, and research costs (that you have to pay out-of-pocket). As much as possible, look for financial aid that can help reduce these expenses, such as scholarship grants, government education programs, and employer tuition assistance, among others.
Your employer is on board with it
It is fully up to you if you want to inform your employer about your plans to go to grad school. But in general, it is better to let them know as opposed to having them finding out sooner or later and risking getting called out for keeping it a secret. Hence, if you tell your employer that you want to go to grad school, and they show support for it (and are willing to make accommodations), it’s another great sign that you’re ready for another degree.
Going to grad school can be a huge step for your career, but it’s not something that should be done on a whim. There a lot of factors that you have to consider and variables that you have to be prepared for. Hence, spend more than enough time thinking about your level of preparedness for this new endeavor — starting by ticking off the checklist above.