In today’s world, it’s necessary to have at least one degree if you want to be taken seriously by employers and stand a chance in the competitive job market. So as a high school graduate, the question you need to ask yourself is not whether you should go to college, but which one you’ll attend and what you’ll study. However, when it comes to a graduate degree, don’t make a quick decision. Make certain your graduate degree will make a marked difference in your career and your life.
When you know it’s going to help you advance professionally
Most professionals choose to work soon after graduating from college because it allows them to start repaying their student loans and earn enough money to live comfortably. They don’t think of doing a master’s degree unless they’re going into medicine or law or research. However, there may come a time when you feel that you’re stagnating in your job and that additional educational qualifications could help you move up or bring about a positive change. So if you do decide to go back to school, ensure that your time, effort and money are not wasted in the pursuit of a degree that is worthless as far as your profession is concerned. Choose a major that is relevant to your line of work and one which is a requisite for a promotion you want and/or which will help you gain additional skills and knowledge to boost your standing in the workplace.
When it is a personal milestone
Some people want to obtain a master’s degree upon graduation from their undergraduate school but are unable for various reasons. They may be forced to find a job, family responsibilities come up, or they may not have the financial wherewithal to afford a graduate education. However, they may get the opportunity to go back to school to earn the degree they’ve always wanted at a later date. When it’s a case of personal triumph and achievement, your master’s degree is really worth the effort and time.
Ron’s Note: This was my exact situation when I decided to get MY Master’s Degree in Business Administration. I wanted to get it for the sheer personal satisfaction.
When it is a stepping stone to a greater goal
The choice of an undergraduate major normally decides the career you want; however, there are general streams like the arts and sciences that allow you to set up a basic foundation and then decide what you want to build on it. Some people choose to become doctors or lawyers and go on to choose their master’s degree accordingly. Others prefer to stick with the same major to do research and earn a doctorate. They prefer to stay in the world of academia as researchers, scientists and professors who communicate their knowledge to future generations. When your master’s degree is a stepping stone to a greater aim, it’s worth every drop of sweat you’ve shed to earn it.
Ron’s Note: I’ve considered using my MBA as a springboard to teach part-time after I retire.
When you don’t spend more than you have to in order to earn it
If you’re getting deeper into debt in order to earn your master’s degree and you know that there’s no job on earth that will help you repay all that you’ve borrowed, it’s just not worth the time and effort to go to grad school. No matter what your dreams and aspirations, you must be practical when it comes to financial matters. You don’t want to live like a penniless pauper who’s rich only in terms of degrees.
Ron’s Note: We probably all know someone who paid more for their degree than it could possibly be worth. Don’t let this happen to you. The people I’ve met in this situation are pretty bitter about it. But it shouldn’t have surprised them.
When it decides your career
Some master’s degrees span four or more years – they’re a combination of both bachelor’s and master’s degrees rolled into one for people looking to consolidate the admissions process. These degrees are great for people who want to change careers after completing college. They help you finish a graduate’s degree in less time than usual and they save you some money too.
Ron’s Note: I sincerely wish I had taken this route but as an 18 year old freshman, I just didn’t have the drive or the self discipline to take this step.
Don’t stay on in school just to avoid facing the responsibilities that await you in the real world – choose to go on to graduate school only because your degree is totally worth it professionally and/or personally.
This guest post was contributed by Mark Macaluso from Masters in Accounting.net.
Photo by ilamont.com