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When Should You Consider Grad School?

June 7, 2011

This is a guest post by Darby O’Hara at – the #1 graduate school directory on the planet.  Find your graduate program at, and visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

Writer for GradSchools.comBy Darby O’Hara

With four rigorous years behind you and your diploma in hand, you can proudly call yourself a college graduate. The only question is, “Now what?” Before you go any further, you should consider this answer: graduate school.

While you may be grinding your teeth at the thought of more schooling, you shouldn’t turn your back at making graduate school your next step. Maybe you’re hoping to break into a field that requires more than four years of higher education, or maybe you have expectations of a higher starting salary. If so, grad school might be your only logical answer.

Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

Graduate school can add substantially to your credentials, especially if you want to succeed in a highly specialized field.

Let’s not forget the good news here: You’ve graduated college! Don’t think you are re-applying to another undergraduate program or anything like it. You have your diploma, you’ve paid your dues, and now it’s time to hone in on your interests and reach for the success you’ve been working toward. No more general education requirements or elective. Graduate school is designed with your specific interests in mind, to get you the training and experience you need to jump into the job market ahead of the competition.

In your early undergraduate years, it’s likely you weren’t exactly sure what your career path would be. Maybe you were among the many that changed your mind and your major halfway through college. You are not alone, my friend. Typically, undergraduate education allows room to experiment or change your mind.

Grad school, on the other hand, is ready and waiting to take you in after that epiphany of “I think I know what I want to do with my life … I think.” Skepticism is allowed, we’re only human. Here, graduate school will guide you to delve deeper, working toward a mastery of your chosen field. Your goal in grad school will be to gain the specialized training necessary to “make it” in the field you plan to enter.

Companies and institutions seeking employees recognize the prestige of earning a graduate degree, often seeking out graduate students over applicants who only earned a bachelor’s degree, whether extra schooling is required for your field or not. A graduate degree will expose you to more networking opportunities and give you the experience and knowledge that would take years to acquire while on the job.

With a graduate degree under your belt, you can enter the job market at a higher caliber than your competition and land a higher-level entry job, putting you on track to advance your career at a faster rate than those who earned only a bachelor’s degree.

If that’s not enough, know that a graduate degree can earn you the extra credibility you need for the success you’ve been striving for throughout your higher education. The decision to choose the grad school path after receiving your undergraduate degree is choosing the express lane to the success and fulfillment you are looking to achieve.

With the decision to continue your studies in grad school, you are taking control of your life. You’re not settling for the status quo. After all, why would you be applying to grad school if you weren’t ready to get out there and craft a life full of success? And while you’re at it, why not take the opportunity to study abroad in grad school? Just a thought.

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