You have graduated from a college or university, earning yourself a bachelor’s degree. It is an accomplishment worthy of celebrating – a milestone that opens you to many opportunities. You finished college, believing that you are now ready to take on a career. After all, an undergraduate education has given you the foundational knowledge in your field of choice. Little did you know, finishing your undergraduate degree is merely scratching the surface of your academic life.
The UNESCO reports that one-third of American adults are college graduates, mainly impacting the country’s educational attainment status. According to EducationData, over 1.9 million Americans graduated from college in the 2015-2016 academic year, and more than 785,000 earned a master’s degree.
With the diversity of higher education institutions in the United States, many students pursue graduate studies. The main attraction is the country’s higher education system that strives to embody equal opportunity and social mobility and follows a decentralized, rigorous curriculum. The catch? There is growing concern over the skyrocketing tuition rates that result in massive student debt and less competent graduates.
Despite the correlation, higher education is still considered an essential element to success, if not the key to it.
Aside from the big paycheck that the completion of graduate study promises, graduate students say it’s about passion. Some see graduate studies as the most practical path towards securing a place in their career. While others see higher education as leverage, especially for those looking for a career change, your love for learning and research, cultural motivation, and tradition play a key role in making this decision.
Regardless of the obstacles, the number of students enrolling in graduate schools continues to rise. It even tripled since the 1970s. A conservative estimate predicts 27% of employers in the country now require a master’s degree for specific positions. In light of these figures, more and more working adults are considering going to graduate school.
It is easy to understand why. Regardless of your motivation, going to graduate school is never a bad idea. You will gain advanced learning in a degree of your choosing, and become an expert in that field. You can also get paid while still in school.
Here are more reasons to consider graduate study:
You will Become an Expert
Compared to an undergraduate degree, graduate education provides you with a more in-depth understanding of your chosen specialty. Graduate students gain advanced learning in a specialized field. In most graduate schools, students are free to choose a sub-discipline – giving you a glimpse of multiple disciplines. Going to graduate school will provide you with opportunities to engage in a more hands-on learning experience, as well as experiential training. This is especially true in research-oriented programs. You will also hone your problem-solving, analytical, writing, intrapersonal, and mathematical skills, and expand your knowledge of technology.
Because you are a grad student, you will be expected to be leaders in innovation, taking the pilot seat in research and development. And as trained leaders in your industry, you are presumed to carry out the role of a leader. As the workforce evolves, earning a graduate degree is a manifestation of your commitment to gaining the expertise that your industry needs. With an advanced degree, you are treated with respect and credibility. Becoming an expert through graduate studies is the most efficient, albeit, not the most economical way to success.
Increase Your Earning Potential
A graduate degree is often synonymous with higher earning potential, which is true. We know for a fact that those who have completed graduate school are generally paid more than those who only have an undergraduate diploma, more so, a high school degree. People who have earned an MBA from the country’s top programs see a significant 60 to 150% increase in their salary while a master’s degree will give you an average of 25% increase in your future earnings.
A graduate degree is an investment towards a stable financial future. An employee with a master’s degree earns over $10,000 more than their colleagues with a bachelor’s degree. While the average pay for a master’s degree holder will depend on several factors, you can expect to earn more. Among the highest-paying master’s degrees, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration lands the coveted number one spot. This is primarily because of the broad array of concentrations within the field.
Land Top Positions
It is believed that a master’s degree is the new bachelor’s. In a competitive workforce environment, particularly in the United States, some positions require a master’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professions in community and social service, legal, education, and medical sectors typically require a graduate education for an entry-level position. Most of the jobs in the field require an internship or other supervised training experience. In the medical field, employers prefer those who have completed clinical training on top of a graduate degree.
A graduate degree reflects your expertise and credibility, which gives you more freedom to choose your career projection. Now that you are an expert, your specialized knowledge increases your proficiency in the discipline. This will provide you with a competitive advantage, especially now that employers are raising their entry-level academic requirements.
There is No Deadline
You are free to go to graduate school whenever you decide to. Graduate school is open for anyone who has the drive to pursue higher education; you can enroll in a master’s or doctorate at any age or stage of your life. The majority of graduate students are fresh college graduates. They go to graduate school directly after finishing their undergraduate degree. However, most graduate programs require applicants to have at least a few years of work experience. To qualify for a top-tier graduate school, you must have an impressive resumé. One way of projecting competence is to approach your weaknesses with the will to correct them. For example, even if you have a competitive GPA, you need to solidify your application with a rock-solid essay. Complacency has no place in your graduate school application.
You should go to graduate school when you are ready. After all, the purpose of graduate studies is to learn new knowledge and skills that you can use in your professional life. Of course, consider applying to a graduate program that offers courses that you are interested in. Evaluate the curriculum as well as the faculty, publications, and opportunities for presentation.
Develop New Skills
Students who go to graduate school develop new skills that will set you up for life. The most impressive are transferable skills. These are talents and abilities which you can apply to most, if not all, jobs and industries. In a consumer-facing industry, customer service, for example, you must be familiar with the intricacies of the technology and software you use every day. Among the many skills you get to develop while in graduate school are leadership, time management, analytical, budgeting, interpersonal, communication, and organizational skills. These are all transferable skills that can be easily translated into every possible employment setting.
Practical leadership skills will enable you to engage with your colleagues, set goals within the team, and delegate responsibilities. This skill is vital in building a confident and efficient team. Moreover, while industries undergo data migration, moving towards digitalization, data analysts have become in high demand.
Follow Your Passion
Before the societal pressure of securing a high-paying job while pursuing job security, graduate studies are pursued by passionate academics. Fascination and passion are the two driving forces why people choose to go towards a specialized area of study. Exploring a subject in graduate school means participating in academic discourse while surrounded by a community of esteemed scholars. You will be in the company of experts – faculty mentors, advisers, and colleagues – towards publishing scholarly research.
If you ever feel stuck doing the same job every day, exploring higher education may bring your passion back. Landing the wrong job may be due to weak career guidance, financial problems, or even lack of self-awareness. All these may lead to low levels of engagement, productivity, stress, alienation – leading to burnout. Pursuing your passion for learning through graduate studies may be the best decision you will ever make. After all, it is proven that when your studies align with your values, you are expected to perform better.
A graduate degree is a remarkable achievement that not everyone gets to complete. There may be no exact formula to quantify the importance of education, but receiving a master’s or doctorate will give you a greater sense of personal accomplishment. It is synonymous with added value and credibility.
Most importantly, it improves your academic prowess, enhancing your ability to complete what you have set your mind into effectively. With a graduate degree, landing positions of leadership will become second nature to you.