The year is winding down; we have our routines and schedules that are finally feeling comfortable. So the thought of graduate school may bring up a lot of hesitation. At this point in your life, the commitment of another responsibility may just seem like too much to take on. Graduate school has a lot of benefits, and if you research your major of interest, it will be easy to find all the reasons you should take a leap of faith and apply. But there are reasons that usually seem to hold us back:
1. “The application process for grad programs is lengthy and stressful.”
Applications for grad programs typically involve submitting multiple documents. At first, it can seem overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to use your admissions counselor as a resource! They are excited to walk through every step with you. You will find that you are either introducing yourself to the program or asking your previous schools and mentors to send in forms for you. Many are surprised to get to the end of their application packet in less than a week.
2. “Isn’t grad school expensive?”
Continuing your education is an investment—both mentally and financially. Schools understand that this is a stepping stone to advancing your career and want to give you the best resources possible. Find a school that doesn’t only provide courses you need but also a fully immersive learning experience with qualified professors, tight-knit cohorts, networking opportunities, etc. Make your investment a worthwhile one. Also, get in touch with a financial aid counselor. Many schools offer repayment plans, loans and information on applying for scholarships and grants.
3. “I have a full-time job. Can I do both?”
Working full time takes up most of our time and energy. It is hard to imagine school on top of that. Look into programs that allow you to go at a slower pace, offer online classes for more flexibility or offer class times that fit your work schedule. School should complement your current work, not take away from it. Look into programs that allow you to earn credit hours in your current workplace.
4. “Grad programs take so long to complete.”
Grad school should take as long to complete as you need it to. For those who can jump in and take a full schedule, it will be a short season. For those who need to move at a slower pace due to work or family, it may be longer. At the end of the day, as long as you feel comfortable with your workload, it is the perfect pace!
5. “My life is just too busy.”
Currently, any change feels like too much. One little detail can throw off the perfectly planned routine and balance you have created. Here’s the thing: if school is important, you’ll naturally create a new routine to accommodate it. Your work schedule may change a bit, ordering in pizza for dinner may be a more regular thing, but it’s just a season and life will adjust as you need it to.
Whether you decide to take steps toward continuing education today or ten years from now, there is always a reason not to. Sometimes the only way to know for sure is to just start. Be aware of your capacity, establish your pace and go from there.