Is Graduate School Worth it?

Is graduated school worth it? You probably typed this in a few times while either applying for school or while actually being in school. Honestly, the answer is always going to be “it depends”. Every situation is extremely different and going to graduate school can be 100% worth it and 100% a waste of your time. From my experience, it has totally been worth it and I’ll explain why in this blog. For you, you might really want to consider some things before going. You can be extremely successful without graduate school. It really depends on your goals.

Green Typewriter on Brown Wooden Table

Your Goals

Before you start applying, really ask yourself “what are my goals and will grad school help to achieve those?” Let’s say your goal is to make a ton of money, will grad school cause that to happen/. You could be going into a program that really doesn’t make a lot of money afterwards. So, in this case, grad school is not worth it for that goal. If your goal is to further your education and possibly go into an academic research position, grad school is essential.

Why I chose graduate school

Going to grad school was a pretty easy one for me at first because I was money driven. I wanted to get a master’s to be able to make more money and be highly sought after by employers. Getting a master’s in engineering is pretty difficult so I figured people would really be interested. It wasn’t until I looked more at what my real goals were that I realized what my true passion was for. My goal for grad school changed drastically. I wanted to become a research scientist because I was curious about the unknown. Money would be nice, but thanks to many of the realizations I had about money, I knew that that wasn’t something to really chase after. Now, 4.5 years later, I am preparing to exit grad school with very new goals that I have set. So for me, grad school was worth the time and many, many headaches.

Person Holding Yellow Leaf

Some more perks in graduate school

Here is a list of some of the perks that come with graduate school and why it may be worth going:

  1. You meet a ton of really intelligent people. You also get to network with scientists that may have come up with some of the concepts that you studied in college. I have met many people that have revolutionized the field that I am studying, water chemistry.
  2. You get to make long lasting friendships with like-minded individuals. The friends that I have made these past few years are some of the best friendships that I have ever had. Sure, you can meet people outside of grad school, but it can be very hard to find people just like you in this huge world. College brings all of these people together and almost makes it easy to find them.
  3. You will obtain a master’s or PhD at the end of it. These degrees last you the rest of your life and can open up doors that you never knew existed. This is a huge perk to grad school.
  4. You get to work on some really exiting projects. If you do a thesis based grad degree, you may get to work on some cool scientific studies. FOr me, I get to play with water, lead pipes, and some super concentrated acids. I also get to work on projects that can help make people’s lives better. That makes all the work I do extremely satisfying.
  5. You can go on trips to present your work. Conferences are a huge part of grad school. You might go to one, you might go to 50. Each one is unique and you get to meet some really cool people from around the country or even the world. I have only gone to one, but I learned some cool things about similar research and got to talk with other PhDs about their experiences. I made some friends too.
Side view of frustrated bearded African American businessman in formal wear sitting on street near building in city after workday

Some other things to Consider for Graduate School

Unfortunately, there are some other things that you need to consider first before going off. I list those here:

  1. How much it costs. I don’t know about your schools, but UF is 1.5x undergrad tuition. It’s expensive to go to grad school. Luckily I have a tuition stipend so it’s paid for, but master students pay out of pocket, mostly. If you are an international student, you are paying much more.
  2. You may be very far away from friends and family. I am fortunate enough to only be about 2 hours away from my family, but I am about 6 hours from my girlfriend. This is always extremely hard to deal with. Some people move half way across country from grad school and spend months or years away from loved ones.
  3. You might get addicted to coffee. This is a real concern for some people lol. If you do find yourself in this position, check out my blog post on coffee. You’ll need it (link here).
  4. You’re mental health will be put to the test. If you have mental health problems already, grad school may cause those to be worse. It is extremely stressful in 1000 different ways and will stretch your mental health to the limit. If you don’t have mental health problems, you might get some unfortunately. Read up on if before applying. Here is a great place to start.
  5. You might hate it. Grad school can often be an acquired taste. Sometimes you get a terrible adviser or your project just doesn’t go anywhere. These happen but you are taking a risk by going to grad school. And, you probably won’t go anywhere if you don’t take risks.
grad school

In the end

Do you want to go to graduate school? Do you feel like it will help make your life better than it is now? Have you considered everything that is on this blog? If you say yes to all of these, I say apply somewhere today. Graduate school has been such an amazing, scary, frustrating, exhilarating, and fulfilling experience for me and for many of my colleagues. Would I do it again? That’s a hard no, but would I say it was worth it, oh yeahhhhhhh. I have about 6 months left in my program before funding runs out and I am forced out. I honestly love what I do and thinking about what comes next is scary. But life isn’t worth living unless you conquer those things that scare you.

If you are thinking about graduate school, and have questions, send me an email at benswaringen@yahoo.com. I’ll try my best to help you out. Also, check out my other blogs on my website. Until next time, peace!

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