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Friday, July 15, 2011 |

Is Graduate School a Good Investment for You?

I’m a big fan of higher education. A college degree, for example, is proven to net more income for a person over the course of their lifetime than only having a high school diploma. I went even further than that and got myself an MBA, which hopefully will net out even more income over time for me. It was an investment—and trust me, that thing was expensive—that made sense for me.

However, going to graduate school is not the right answer for everyone. When I started thinking about going back to school, I put myself through a little exercise where I laid out all of my potential school expenses, which was pretty sobering! Then, I took a couple minutes to think about my career progress and development. What did I want to do long-term? More importantly, would having an MBA help me achieve that or just be “nice” to have?

Ultimately, the MBA would assist me in meeting those long-term objectives, so I went for it. It also lined up with potential salary increases, which meant that over time it would be easier to pay off my student loans. (Although, don’t get me wrong: Student loans stink, no matter what!) Yet, this is not the case for everyone. It really depends on two things:

  1. What type of degree do you want to get? Different masters’ degrees and PhDs come with different jobs and salaries after graduation. It’s important that you do your research because you not only want to be sure you know how much of an income you could potentially have, but also because you will want to know that you can afford your future student loans.
  2. Do you want to go back to school for the right reasons? With the “great recession,” a lot of people have chosen to go back to school because they were out of work and frustrated. While getting a graduate degree is a great goal, it needs to line up with what you really want to do and accomplish in your professional life. If it doesn’t, you’ll be just as frustrated as ever… and a whole lot poorer.

If you’ve thought these things through, graduate school can be a great investment in your future and a way to move forward in your career. If not, however, it can ultimately be somewhat of a waste of time… and money.

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