Are you considering going to graduate school to enhance your career in the Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math industries? There are a lot of factors to consider when making this decision. Are you going to work and attend school? Or maybe pull out student loans to cover the cost of living while completing the classes? Do you have the time to give up to 30 hours a week to go to classes and study? These thoughts and more may be racing through your head right now. There are a lot of factors to consider, but below are 5 key considerations to think about when deciding if you’re ready for graduate school.
First and foremost, really consider if you have the time to go back to school. If you find that you don’t exactly have time to even think about the options, you may need to wait to go back to grad school or you will have to make some serious schedule adjustments. Think about your future: are you about to make any other major life changing decisions? Marriage? Kids? Get a game plan together for the next few years of your life so that you don’t overbook and ultimately overwhelm yourself.
Now that you have planned out a general timeline (life happens), think about what you want to go back to school for. Where are you in your career and where do you want to be? When you go back to graduate school, you will want to gain knowledge that is going to enhance your career and you want to get the most out of the experience. Do your research and compare different programs that are offered at different schools in order to pick one that will work best for you and cater to your specific career needs.
Once you have decided that you are dedicated to the idea of going back to school, you need to prepare yourself for the GRE or GMAT Test. Some schools will use your scores as a determining factor of whether or not you are accepted to the program of your choice, while some just see it as a formality. If you think that you can just “wing-it” and show up for the test, think again. This test will take months of preparation. To give you an idea, The Princeton Review states that the minimum score you can make for the GRE is a 130 and an average score is 150.8. The GMAT ranges from 200 – 800 and two thirds of test takers score between 400 and 600. If you want to insure that you are accepted to the program of your choice, the more effort you put into this process, the better.
Once you have completed your GRE or GMAT, you will need to consider how you schedule your classes. Planning out your semester around your work load can be difficult. Are you going to go to classes on week nights so that you have your weekends free? Or another option is to take your classes every other weekend, so that you only have to go to school twice a month and you don’t have to work after you get off work. Make sure and complete the research in advance in order to maximize your time management. What type of schedule you pick will be determined by what program (and school) you decide to enroll in. Even though you will be pulling some late nights or working weekends, the perks of going to school and working at the same time is that you can apply what you are learning immediately to your work. This will not only give you more knowledge but experience as well.
If you think that you can’t possibly manage school and work, another option is to take off work for a couple of years to focus on your studies. You can pull out student loans to pay for your school and dip into your savings to maintain your life style. This is a risky move because debt will pile up but you will have more time on your hands to focus on your studies. Ultimately, plan a schedule that will work best for you and help you succeed.
The last thing to consider before going back to graduate school is Certifications. Since you are a part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Industries, sometimes a certification is all you need to advance in your career. Certifications are cheaper and a quicker option, but they aren’t always the answer. Sometimes, you need the graduate school degree. If you’d like to learn more about certifications, check out our blog The TRC Professional Solutions Team – Talks Certifications to learn more.