Graduate School Questions to Ask Yourself Before Applying

Janelle Cox
Janelle Cox
M.S. in Education
A portrait of an empty college application sitting near a coffee cup, pencil, and paper clips.

Preparing for graduate school is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. It’s also a commendable decision that can enhance your professional development and potentially increase your salary. Pursuing a graduate degree can be a great career choice if you’re determined to advance your skill set. But before applying for grad school there are a few graduate school questions you should stop and ask yourself first. Here are a few things to think about before applying for graduate school and obtaining an advanced degree.

How Do You Want it to Affect your Career?

When deciding upon graduate school think about why you want to go.

  • Do you desire a new position?
  • Are you looking for a raise in your salary?
  • Or do you want to improve your craft to help your current students?

Graduate degrees offer many benefits, but to get the most out of it, you need to know how you want it to affect your career.

If you’re looking for a new position, an advanced degree can open the door for that. Most upper-level jobs require a master’s degree, so if you’re looking for a leadership role an advanced degree can help with that. If you’re looking for a salary increase, an advanced degree often means a higher salary.

However, it’s wise to do your homework and compare your salary now to know if you’ll be making more once you obtain your new degree. Lastly, if you’re looking to advance your knowledge to help your current students, an advanced degree can provide you with specific skills that can make a difference in your students’ lives.

What Degree is Best for Your Goals?

What exactly do you plan on studying in graduate school? Graduate school is a time for you to hone in on a specific skill(s) but choosing the right program can be a tough choice.

There are three levels of graduate study:

Graduate certificates and endorsements are not a degree, but they do require a bachelor’s degree to obtain one. If you’re looking to obtain new skills quickly, this is an option because they usually take about 20 credit hours.

A master’s degree can take about two years to complete, and you become a “master” in your chosen field.

Some of the most popular master’s options for teachers are:

A doctoral degree is the highest level in academia and is considered a terminal degree. Graduates in this program are usually in administrative roles in K-12 and higher education.

What Can You Afford?

Before you embark on such a long-term commitment it’s wise to consider if you can fund this investment in your education. Graduate school can be very expensive, according to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of a public school master’s degree is around $54,000.

However, once you decide on the school you want to go to, you can fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to help you determine which federal aid assistance you may be able to receive. You also have the option to take out a federal or private school loan. If you’re currently working, you can ask your employer if they offer tuition reimbursement benefits. Budgeting is also essential on an educator salary when pursuing graduate programs.

Another option to help you fund graduate school is to pursue outside funding like a fellowship. A fellowship is a monetary award that helps pay for your academic pursuits. In the end, the hope is that with your new degree, you’ll have the earning potential to make paying off school manageable.

Do You Have the Time?

Timing and time management is important when deciding on graduate school. If you just completed your undergraduate degree and feel the pressure to move right on to graduate school, then you should know that there is no age restriction for when you decide to go. Before you invest your time into such a big commitment, make sure the time is right for you. If you’re going because you’re not sure what you want to do next, then you may not get that much out of the experience. However, if you think you are ready to dedicate the time and time management skills needed to invest in furthering your education, then you may have a very rewarding experience.

Going to grad school can be a huge adjustment, especially if you decide to go after being in the workforce for some time. You will need a support system to help motivate you and get you through any challenging times. However, once you’ve decided to commit to graduate school, it can be a transformative experience. You’ll be in the company of like-minded individuals and learn from incredible teachers.

If you’re interested in pursuing an advanced degree and want to learn more, please explore our online, hybrid, and in-person master’s and doctorate degrees.

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