The choice to pursue a higher education after completing an undergraduate degree can be challenging, and not everyone’s decision process will be the same. Business advisor Rod Smith and philosophy advisor Max Rosenkrantz talk about the investment and personal decision of applying to grad school.
It is important to have a general idea of when to start considering graduate school, how to gauge if it is a good investment for a student personally and understand what to do if undergraduate studies haven’t gone as planned.
When to start considering graduate school
It is best to contemplate graduate school as early on as possible as an undergraduate, as this decision requires a lot of introspection.
“You have to understand yourself, your interests, your capabilities, what you want to achieve, and so forth,” Rosenkrantz said
The sooner a student examines these things, the sooner they can make their decision and prepare when the time comes to apply.
Ways to prepare for graduate school as an undergraduate
Establishing relationships with professors and advisors are essential for both those in undergrad and graduate school, as these professionals are great sources for networking and recommendation letters. Ideally, students should take multiple classes with the same professor so they can thoroughly vouch for their work ethic.
“That recommendation should talk about your commitment and ability to complete a graduate program…because we find that the biggest issue for students is time management,” Smith said.
Internships are also an excellent way for students to explore their interests and get a better idea of job responsibilities for a certain career path.
What to do if undergraduate studies haven’t gone as planned
Things may not have gone as planned during undergrad in terms of grades, establishing relationships with faculty or finding extracurricular activities. Regardless, this shouldn’t discourage one from applying for graduate programs.
Grad school can be used as a way to further explore what students have studied, explore something entirely different, perform better, or even build connections and relationships with faculty and other professionals that weren’t established the first time around.
“There’s no single decision that you’ll make as an undergraduate that somehow forever closes off the possibility of going to graduate school,” Rosenkrantz said.
How to gauge if graduate school is a good investment
Graduate school is a huge financial investment and should be carefully analyzed.
“You want to think about where you’re going to want to go, and is this going to pay me back,” Smith said. “And that’s a hard question to answer because it depends on the individual.”
A good resource for determining whether grad school is a good investment is by using a Return on Investment (ROI) calculator online.
Graduate school is also a huge time investment; students should consider what they’ll need to sacrifice in order to make time for their studies, such as career opportunities or personal investments, such as travel.