Mulling Over a Master’s Degree? What to Consider Before Proceeding
For some people, getting a master’ degree is a necessary component of getting their desired job—it is an established requirement, and you can’t even get your foot in the door without it. No major decisions to be made there. But, for many people, getting this advanced degree is not such a foregone conclusion, and deciding whether or not to pursue it takes some careful evaluation. On one hand, it would seem like a no-brainer—more education must be better right? But, this isn’t always the case. If you are considering whether to go back to school to get your master’ degree, here are some important points to think about.
This is a very important question to ask because it can help determine the ‘quality’ of your motivation. Some reasons are certainly better than others to throw yourself into such an expensive and time-consuming endeavour. If you are about to, or have recently, completed your undergrad studies, have you determined a career path and know getting a master’s degree is the smart move? Or, are you maybe hoping to avoid your debut into the ‘real world’ by remaining a student a bit longer?
If you are currently working, what is driving you? Will this move help you advance in your company or current career? Are you planning on entering a whole new field and this is the ticket in? Are you being driven to this as a means to move forward, or are you just looking for a way to escape your current work? There is nothing wrong with a feeling of dissatisfaction driving your desire to change—that usually factors in to some degree in most major changes in life. But, you have to be honest with yourself here. Are you just really unhappy and looking for any excuse to quit your job?
Are You Up for the Work?
Getting a master’s degree is no easy task. There is a lot of work—lots of reading and papers. Getting an advanced degree is a much more independent process than a bachelor’s. You are expected to figure a lot of ‘stuff’ out on your own; a lot of motivation and self-discipline are necessary. If you will be working, particularly full-time, you are going to have a lot on your plate. How are your time management skills?
If you’re really serious about this, you need to devote a lot of time to prepping for the GRE. If your location or time constraints make an in-person preparation class feasible, look into GRE online prep courses. Start investigating this now to get an idea of costs, time commitments and the like. The only way you will succeed is having a strong ‘why’ behind you—that is why it is so crucial to deeply examine your motivations.
What Do You See for Your Future?
While you can’t predict your life, and it can be hard to envision what might be happening five or ten years down the road, you do want to give some thought to the long-term to determine whether a master’s degree is the right move for you. Are you thinking about changing careers, or do you see yourself progressing in your current one? Would work experience perhaps be more beneficial for your ultimate goals? What doors would the master’s open up for you?
Are these paths that are actually personally appealing and ones you would want to pursue? Don’t just assume that getting a master’s degree in and of itself will be good simply because it means you have more education. That does not automatically translate to more money and opportunity.
Again, if getting a master’s degree is not a foregone conclusion for your career goals, and you are mulling it over, don’t rush into this decision. Really think carefully if this is the best move. There is a lot of time and money involved; you want to feel clear about the decision, because without that clarity, it will be even more challenging to complete it successfully.