According to a 2009 study by the U.S. Census Bureau, less than 5 percent of the U.S. population has a graduate degree. The post-recession economy has placed increased pressure on job-seekers and working professionals to join this minority and gain a leg up on the competition. However, many prospective graduate students still need assistance in deciding whether they should attend graduate school.
“In today’s competitive job market, candidates need to add value to their prospective employer’s business and tell them exactly how they intend to do it,” said Nelly C. Leon, M.S., senior career advisor at DeVry University. “Many would argue that master’s degree holders are more proficient at delivering that value.”
Nevertheless, before prospective grad students begin forecasting the potential salary and prestige an advanced degree may bring, it is important that they consider why they want the degree and how they will utilize it to get ahead.
“Some students want a graduate degree to help them launch their own business, while others are more concerned with accelerating their career trajectory or becoming a better manager,” said Eddie R. Wachter, Ph.D., dean of academic affairs at DeVry University. “Potential graduate students need to decide how their desired degree will help them become a more competent and respected leader.”
It is imperative that professionals consider the following:
How will a graduate degree help me? Many job-seekers aspire to earn a graduate degree without analyzing the most-needed skills in their industry. A graduate degree, in itself, does not bring opportunity. It is important to gauge where a graduate degree will be beneficial and how it should be utilized.
What type of graduate program do I need? Program offerings are a vital component of this decision. Prospective students should ask themselves the following: Do I need to work full-time while enrolled? Do I need a school with year-round evening and weekend classes as well as flexible ◊online degree options [http://www.devry.edu/online-options/online-degree-programs.jsp]◊ so I can finish quickly? Schools such as DeVry University give students the chance to earn a master’s degree on a ◊personalized schedule [http://www.devry.edu/whydevry/online-university-flexible-scheduling.jsp]◊ without affecting their lifestyle.
Will my graduate education pay off? Many job-seekers neglect researching how long it will take them to pay for their education. While some employers offer tuition reimbursement programs, many graduate students pay for their own education. Earning a graduate degree must benefit the student both professionally and financially.
How will I balance my schedule? Balancing responsibilities is challenging without the added pressure of pursuing a master’s degree. Prospective students should establish a support system to help them balance the demands of higher education.
Prospective graduate students need to honestly weigh all of their options and motivations while deciding whether to pursue a graduate degree. However, with proper planning, a graduate degree can catapult professionals to new career heights, reveal exciting growth opportunities and give young professionals and their business a clear competitive advantage.