Grad School: Considerations for College Students

Grad School: Considerations for College Students

By Elizabeth LaScala, Ph.D.

July 1, 2020

People attend grad school for a variety of reasons. Whether you are pursuing a subject you love, seeking to advance your career, or trying something new for the love of learning, here are some things to consider before taking the plunge.

Grad. & Prof. School Admissions and COVID-19

Due to COVID-19, various graduate school admissions exams — including the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, and MCAT — have been postponed or canceled.

This impacts everyone, applicants and schools alike. Delayed or online testing and admissions without testing are options being considered.

Please stay up to date with the organization who administers the test you want to take. They’ll provide updates as the situation evolves.

Pick your passion

The goal of an undergraduate degree is to provide a broad foundation in higher education after high school, and your major gives you the opportunity to get more deeply involved in a subject of your choice. A graduate degree is deeper still, requiring a level of commitment and interest above and beyond that of undergrad. If you can’t easily identify your true passions, it is wise to hold off before starting your graduate degree. A little work and life experience will help you distinguish between a true passion and a passing fancy.

Tip: Good ways of testing out your academic passion while still in college include taking some advanced coursework, doing an internship, joining a research project or TAing for a class in your area of interest.

A graduate degree doesn’t have to be in your major

Just because you committed to a particular major as an undergrad does not mean other fields are closed to you. Yes, studying biology in your undergrad years will make it easier for you to pursue an advanced degree in biochemistry. However, if you have good grades and test scores, excellent letters of recommendation and the ability to convey and demonstrate your passion through a cover letter, portfolio, additional course work and/or work experience, then the doors to grad school are always open. This is especially true for Masters degrees. While Doctoral degrees (Ph.D.) are highly specific, advanced degrees with a narrower focus, Masters degrees are slightly broader and have fewer requirements. Masters degrees can also be gateways to pursuing Ph.D.s in a field you didn’t major in.

Seriously consider the financial impact

Graduate programs are an investment of time and money (with Masters programs costing less time and money than Ph.D.s). While there are many avenues available for financing grad school, these avenues may not lead to the net gain you expect. Closely examine whether the pay boost associated with earning a graduate degree will be worth the cost of that degree. You may find that entering the work force will give you the experience you need to advance in your career without the associated cost. If you remain convinced that a graduate program is for you, you will find a way to overcome barriers and reach your goals.

Grad. & Prof. School Admissions and COVID-19

Due to COVID-19, various graduate school admissions exams — including the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, and MCAT — have been postponed or canceled.

This impacts everyone, applicants and schools alike. Delayed or online testing and admissions without testing are options being considered.

Please stay up to date with the organization who administers the test you want to take. They’ll provide updates as the situation evolves.

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