No matter what field you’re considering, the decision to apply to graduate school is not one that should be made on a whim. Sure, there are lots of compelling reasons to consider a graduate education—the potential to increase your expertise and earning potential in a particular field, the possibility of enhancing your career flexibility, and the ability to satisfy your intellectual curiosities and passions, to name just a few. But there are also some reasons that are red flags—signs that you should perhaps think long and hard about whether you really want to invest years, money, and energy on a graduate education.
Here are some of those “red flag” reasons:
“I’m having trouble finding a job and I don’t want to move back in with my parents.”
Hiding out from the job market by applying to graduate school is not the way to go, especially because you will find yourself in the exact same position a few years down the road after you complete your graduate training. You should also keep in mind that a lot of graduate programs like to see some work experience in application candidates. You might even find that working in your chosen field (or even in an unrelated field) will provide you with enough personal enjoyment and opportunities for advancement that you might not even feel the need to seek a graduate degree in the long run.
“I don’t know what to do with my life.”
If this sentence is bouncing around in your head, you should definitely stay far away from graduate school. A graduate education can give you valuable tools to be successful in a chosen career, but it is not the magic solution to resolving any doubts you might have about the direction your life is taking. Take some time to figure out what you are truly passionate about before you take such a big (and possibly expensive!) step.
“I’ve always wanted to live in [city/state/country].”
Moving and starting a new life in another place is stressful on its own, even without the added difficulties of gaining your footing as a first-year graduate student. While you should certainly take location into account when looking for graduate programs that are a good fit for you once you make the decision to attend graduate school, wanting to live in a particular city or state should not be the primary reason you choose to attend grad school in the first place.
If you are thinking about applying to graduate school, schedule an appointment with a pre-graduate advisor in The Pre-Graduate Education Advising Program in Hanes Hall. Instructions for making appointments can be found at pregrad.unc.edu.
Check out this video, which explores some reasons you SHOULD go to graduate school, and gives some great tips about doing your research before you apply.