Is Graduate School Really Worth It?
Education tends to be seen as a way to help improve people’s financial stability. The common belief is that a better degree will lead to a better paycheck and, for the most part, that’s true. However, it comes at a cost.
For many, going to grad school is determined by whether or not their undergraduate degree is enough to help land them a steady job in their field. On average, a graduate student will owe approximately $60,000 by the time they have finished their studies, roughly twice as much as undergraduate students. Sometimes, it may decrease one’s chances of obtaining a better job if they’re entering the field with less experience.
Grad school isn’t always necessary, so it is important to make sure it is the right choice for you. Here are a few questions to consider when deciding whether or not you should go to grad school.
Is My Master’s Degree Mandatory?
Some professions required you to go to grad school, especially if that position requires a license. Therapists, medical professionals and some educators (school administrator, school/career counselor), consistently list a master’s degree as a pre-requisite for entry-level positions. In this case, you already have your answer, but still be mindful of the student loans you will have to take on to avoid getting yourself into more student loan debt than you can handle.
What does the job market show?
If grad school isn’t required, do some research on your desired job market. Having a graduate degree and taking on extra student loan debt won’t be worth it if it’ll be harder to find a job. Take your time learning all you can about openings in your industry, its upward mobility, the industry growth, and experts’ opinions on the future of the industry. These are all factors which will help show whether or not a graduate school will be a worthwhile investment.
Does the Debt Outweigh How Much You Make?
A salary estimation website, such as Glassdoor or Payscale, will give you insight to what people in your field and various positions are making. Compare this number to the estimated debt you’ll be taking on after graduation. Don‘t forget about interest, the time it will take to repay, and any undergraduate debt as well. If your debt is more than your projected income, it‘s most likely not going to be in your best interest to attend grad school.
How Will Your Time At School Affect Your Future Savings?
Take your estimated salaries with and without a master‘s degree. Calculate how much money you’ll have saved by age 65 in a Roth IRA, accounting for the time you might lose attending grad school. You can do the same with saving for a home or new car as well. You might be shocked by how much more, or less, you‘ll have earned over time.
Should You Wait?
While immediately attending grad school after college might expedite the process, waiting a year or two might be even more beneficial. Taking time before attending graduate school can give you time to save money. In fact, you may even wind up working for a company that will be willing to foot some of (or even all of) the bill for your education. Research some of your job opportunities nearby and see if they offer some sort of reimbursement for their employees when continuing their studies.
Despite its intimidating cost, there is really no rule of thumb when it comes to attending graduate school. It is always important to consider the financial burden you’ll be taking on and if you will get your money’s worth. As with all matters regarding your money, doing your homework is pivotal. Take the time to make sure that the money you’re investing will pay off for you and provide you with the most financially secure future possible.
What was your experience with grad school? Was it worth it? Was it a waste? Let us know in the comments! And feel free to share our blog on your favorite social network.