Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Is Graduate Studies Right for You?

While the fourth years are currently busy filling out their graduate school applications it's time for the third years to start looking into what schools and programs they are interested in applying to next year. Making the leap from post-secondary to post-graduate school is both difficult and stressful but it's the path that a lot of students are considering today for a number of reasons. However, graduate school isn't necessarily for everyone, nor is it something that everyone will benefit from doing. (For more information
check out my previous blog post "Pass vs. Honours? Master's vs. Undergrad?"

You should ideally be choosing graduate studies only if you have a specific reason for doing so. If your dream career requires a Masters, PhD, or post-graduate certificate then it is definitely something you should consider. Grad school should not be an alternative to avoiding the 'real' world outside of the university campus. Not having a exit-strategy in mind for when you complete graduate degree will only leave you 1-7 years older and in more dept then when you left university the first time around. Ask yourself "why do I need to go to graduate school" and don't tell yourself "I have nothing better to do then go to graduate school". The application process is stressful and time consuming and you more then likely wont want to complete the entire process unless you are passionate about what you are applying to.

Consider graduate studies if you need additional education in order to gain entrance into the field you want to work in. If you have done in depth Occupational Research (as discussed in a previous blog) then you may already know which careers require post-grad and which ones don't. Is spending an addition 1-7 years completing a Master's and/or a PhD worth the time to acquire the job you are interested in?

I'm definitely not trying to scare anyone out of applying. If going to graduate school is what you want to do then you already know this and are probably already looking into the schools you will be applying to next year. However, if you are on the fence about it then it is important to take the following into consideration:
  • Are your grades high enough and, if not, will you be able to improve upon them before next year?
    • Find the required GPA for a particular program by consulting that particular program's website. Each university and program will have different entry GPA requirements, however you should aim for having a B+ (75%) average at the minimum.
  • How do you plan on paying for graduate school? 
    • Considering the potential expenses involved in living in a different city as well as program costs, textbooks, etc. There are also grants and fellowships that are available for many students as well as scholarships opportunities.
  • Do you actually want to go to grad school?
    • Seriously ask yourself this question. What would be your reason for going? Do you truly think it will be worth your time? Go through potential programs that may interest you and take the time to understand your reasons for applying.
We have a number of student staff that are currently filling out their graduate school applications (including myself!) so we are well aware of the stress and time involved in this process. If you need any help figuring out if graduate school is right for you then we encourage you to stop by the Career Resources Centre for a quick chat about your options!

If you have any additional questions feel free to stop by or email us at career@brocku.ca.

Ashley Paolozzi, Lead Career Assistant
4th Year History of Art (Honours)

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Check out the Canadian Guide to Graduate Studies' Guide for Potential Graduate Students which can be found here: http://www.brocku.ca/webfm_send/27174

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