For many young professionals, graduate programs such as a Master of Business Administration or a Masters in Finance are seen as viable options in proliferating and diversifying their professional opportunities. While many seasoned professionals may question the two-year hiatus, having these graduate programs as a stepping-stone can oftentimes help you shape and mold your own personal and professional goals. Now before you make your decision, it is imperative that you reflect and internalize these overarching questions below.
Before I begin, I have to note that unlike undergraduate applications, graduate programs like MBAs and Masters in Finance require you to do various preliminary work and research before making the leap into the deep end. In fact, the arduous and elongated process requires a lot of time, dedication, sacrifice, and money before you even reach the finish line of graduation. If you are a young professional who is seriously considering leaving the securities of your already established career, make sure that this is what you want to do. The one situation you do not want to find yourself in is leaving your company without an actual game plan in mind. Now, if you have done your research and feel like now is the time to get one of these degrees, make sure you can ask the following questions:
Why do you want to go to graduate school?
While simple in it’s phrasing, knowing the ‘why’ can be one of the most convoluted answers you will ever respond to during your graduate school application process. In fact, to make sure you are ready to take that leap of faith, you want to solidify strong concrete reasons why graduate school is your best (and only) option. Do not limit yourself to the generic ideas of networking and job opportunities as your explanation. Instead, incorporate your goals and think of various ways of how that specific graduate degree can get you to where you want to be in the future.
What do you want to do with this particular graduate degree?
With an MBA, PhD, or Masters in Finance degree, you have the option to do really anything you want. But before you get those degrees, it is absolutely imperative that you understand what you want to do five, ten, twenty years down the line. To answer this question, go back to your professional goals. Your goals will allow you to create a strong and tangible step-by-step plan that you can implement each and everyday.
What program are you interested in?
There are a variety of graduate school programs that you can go into. While PhD in liberal arts programs can eventually lead to a tenure job at an elite university, you want to make sure your degree can hold a strong amount of value within the workplace. Just think about it. Education is not cheap. Because of this, you want to make sure that your degree can work in your favor. Make sure the program you are interested in is not just something you are passionate about, but also something that is attractive to the job market.
Where do you want to go?
For some people, they go by the name. For others, they go because of the city. Whatever is the case, make sure you are able to consolidate a strong list of schools of where you want to go. While it is nice to have various options, having a list that is oftentimes too large can be incredibly detrimental to your process. Instead limit your list from five to ten schools that adheres to your personal and professional preferences.
Are you financially capable of making this move?
Money, like anything in this world, will always be a factor in whether or not you are able to go to graduate school. Now, depending on your situation, you may be in a position where leaving your job and your financial salary may not be the right decision. You may also very well be in a situation where you do not have the financial funding to make the leap into graduate school. Whatever is the case, make sure you understand the financial cost and financial sacrifice that graduate school is ask from you.
What is one thing that can prevent you from going?
This is an incredible question that not many applicants ask themselves. At times, life can throw you various situations preventing you from reaching your personal and professional goals. If you know there is something that can potentially hold you back from graduate school, make sure you are able to confront it. Otherwise you may find yourself at a dead-end situation.