There’s one question that never goes away. “Should I go back to graduate school?”
This is an age old question, and it’s one that truly deserves careful thought and scrutiny. First, consider these questions.
Why do I want to go to graduate school? Am I going because I’m struggling to find a job and I believe a graduate degree will make all the difference? Am I going because I want to rebrand myself into a new career? Am I going because I want to increase my knowledge in one area, for the sake of learning?
Do I believe I should definitely make more money after I complete graduate school?
Will I need to quit my job to go to graduate school?
How long will it take to finish graduate school?
Where will I go?
What will I study?
Who will pay for graduate school, and how much will it cost?
If your answers to these questions leaned toward wanting to find a better job that pays more money, graduate school is a big decision for you. It’s not just about what you’ll learn. It’s an investment in your future.
And, as an investment, it should be treated as such. With any other investment, you measure return on investment. And, graduate school is no different!
Fortunately, there are many graduate school ROI calculators online to help. Here’s one from Learn Vest. The things you’ll need to take into consideration are current salary, expected age at retirement, cost of graduate school, and post graduate school salary.
So, how can you predict how much you’ll make after graduate school? A *great* predictor for how much you’ll make after graduate school is how much other graduates from your school made after graduate school. The best place to find this information is called a “post-graduation report.”
If you’ve never seen your school’s post-graduation report, you can usually find it on Google. Just type in something like “Harvard MBA post-graduation report.” Typically, the top search result will be a report that shares the average starting salaries of graduates from their program.
If you’re looking to make more money after graduation, it may be surprising to know – the school you study at will influence your next starting salary. In a quick search while writing this article, I found one MBA program with a starting salary of approximately $73,000 per year. I found another program with a starting salary of approximately $138,000 per year. That’s a huge difference! In fact, it’s almost double. It shows that not every degree is equal.
It doesn’t mean that you should go to the most expensive school, but it does mean that school is an investment. In the above case, the higher starting salary most likely also meant a higher tuition and higher student loans. It’s all about tradeoffs.
Before you decide whether or not to take the plunge, be sure you’ve answered all the questions above – and calculated the ROI for your graduate school’s program.
Author: Angela Copeland
Angela Copeland is Founder and Coach for Copeland Coaching, a great way to jump start your job search. Follow her on Twitter @CopelandCoach for tips on finding the perfect job for you.