After completing your undergraduate degree, there is a tough choice. You can look for a full-time job and take on the real world or you can apply to grad school. Many people choose to further their education, but choosing a graduate school requires thought, as each program is highly targeted at specific study areas. Unlike a liberal arts program in an undergraduate school, education programs will focus only on education, law programs will focus only on law, and so on. Consider the following things if you’re ready to apply to grad school.
1. Program of Study
It’s hard to pick one subject to focus on. By now, graduate schools expect you to know what you want. Each program is intense and focused, and requires hours of coursework, study, and research. You should have some idea of what fields interest you after completing a liberal arts program. In contrast to being an undergrad, you can indulge in topics you are passionate about as a graduate school student.
2. Real World Experience
Graduate school programs often draw on students’ prior experiences. Your work experience may apply to classroom discussions, and there are opportunities to apply leadership skills and even management expertise. Without such experience, you may not have much to contribute. After all, grad school is not only about lectures and textbooks.
3. What Do You Want to Do?
Pondering your expectations out of life is an important part of deciding to apply to grad school. Career courses, internships, and reading job descriptions can help you figure out what path to pursue. Consider the kinds of jobs you want. Is a graduate degree even necessary for you? Check the backgrounds and LinkedIn profiles of people with jobs you’re interested in to see what kind of graduate degree they earned, if they have one at all.
4. How You’re Going to Pay
If student loan bills are already burdensome, you probably don’t want more debt. Positions that compensate you with tuition, hourly pay, or a stipend can help on the financial side, no matter where you go to school. Look for positions such as research assistant, graduate assistant, or faculty assistant for these kinds of compensation.
5. Is It What You Want?
You should always take time too. For example, learn more about USC’s online MPA degree before moving forward. Read all the fine details and know why you want to attend grad school. It doesn’t work well to put off finding a job. Sometimes going to graduate school right out of college isn’t the best thing. A gap year can help you figure things out, and when it’s time to apply again, you may have decided what you want out of the program.
Applying to a program at San Diego State University or any other institution requires keen insight into what field and career you want to pursue. Consider these five factors in making your decision. They will help make the right choices based on your interests, and what you expect to gain from the graduate program. In the long run, you will be readier for the real world and happier as well.