Helpful Answers to Your Questions About Grad School

Thinking about going to grad school? Check out this advice from real students to help you determine if a graduate degree is the right choice for you.

In recent decades, going to college right after high school has become a widely accepted path for most students. However, graduate school remains a questionable endeavor for many, as students are generally less informed about this level of education—and why it may not be right for everyone. I interviewed several students from the University of Arizona to understand their experience with graduate school. Here’s what they had to say.

Choosing grad school vs. starting a career

Q: What should students consider before choosing to continue their education, and what determines when a student should transition to the workforce?

“Students go to grad school because they need a specific skill set. A student should transition into the workforce when they know they have the right skills, which may be after a bachelor’s or master’s degree.” — Courtney Boyd, Speech Language Pathology master’s student

“You should ask yourself if you still value the education you get, even if you end up in a job that doesn’t require anything more than a bachelor’s degree.” — Shawn Diamond, Art History PhD student

“If the student would like to stay in the academic world, continuing to the PhD [level] is really the only way. It may be a good idea to enter the workforce between degrees if they aren’t too sure what they would like to do.” — Faezeh Faezipour, Art History PhD student

“It depends on what job you want to obtain—some require master’s and/or PhD degrees. There may be a salary gap between jobs requiring master’s or PhD degrees. Students might want experience in the workforce because of academic burnout. Other students may want to continue in academia because of a problematic job market for their field.” — Shelby Miller, Art History PhD student

Related: Should You Go to Graduate School During the Pandemic? 

Grad school workload vs. undergrad

Q: What is the typical workload like for grad school compared to undergrad?

“There is a huge gap between the undergrad and graduate workload. There is more pressure to specialize in one area for your career [in graduate school]. This comes with denser readings, less memorization, while truly learning how to research and write.” — Miller

“In my experience, I utilize principles that I previously learned. The professors place higher expectations on you; they push you to your limits.” — Boyd

“This degree requires not only a higher workload, but also a new way of thinking. It is this new way of thinking that can be overwhelming. A PhD becomes more about pushing yourself than the department pushing you. Going into a PhD, I do not think the workload necessarily becomes heavier, but there are more outside expectations (research and dissertations) that push your ability for time management.” — Diamond

“The student is required to conduct original research, and in most cases, this means taking initiative and doing work outside of class.” — Faezipour

Related: How to Improve Your Study Skills for Grad School

Finding the best graduate program for you

Q: How does one determine the best program for their aspirations?

“Funding not only ends up being a signifier of the department’s investment in their students, but it changes what you get out of the program. If a student is not funded, they will be limited in what professional opportunities they can take advantage of (conferences, traveling for research, etc.).” — Diamond

“What program will suit your interests? What program will place you at a more competitive level?” — Boyd

“A PhD is about your potential advisors—find scholars that match your research. You should have options for people to work with and support your projects. Also, ask about what kind of teaching experience you will get and how you will interact with students.” — Miller

Related: Find a Grad School Program That Fits

These responses serve to underscore how rigorous the educational standards are for graduate students and what an accomplishment it is to earn an advanced degree from any university. Remember to think wisely before choosing to pursue additional education, and be sure to research all the pros and cons before taking the plunge. 

Visit our Grad School section to start searching for your perfect program, or read more Grad School Student Stories on CollegeXpress.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:

About Paige Miller

My name is Paige Miller, and I am currently a senior in high school who plans on studying at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University next fall. I consider myself a “chronic dreamer” who hopes to advocate for the betterment of all minority groups.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.

Rayan Hamdan

Rayan Hamdan

High School Student

I joined CollegeXpress just a few months ago. I had been struggling with severe anxiety, causing me to not be able to tour schools and make sure a college would be perfect for me. I came across CollegeXpress one day when I was searching for colleges online, and it completely changed the game. I was easily able to choose colleges that would suit me, and I also entered a few giveaways! Thank you so much!

Victoria

Victoria

High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me by opening my eyes to new opportunities. I learned about such easy ways to get financial help to achieve my dreams while also learning about myself and who I truly am. I know this isn't a very long explanation of what CollegeXpress has done for me, but nonetheless, I believe it's crucial to how I developed as a person throughout my time as a college student.

Aaliyah

Aaliyah

High School Class of 2022

My mother signed me up for a couple of scholarship contests through CollegeXpress. I was also able to do some research and compare the different schools on my list. I was able to see the graduation rates and different programs that helped me decide on Adelphi University. I will continue looking for some scholarships for my start in September.

Jasmine

Jasmine

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me find the school I am currently attending by consistently sending me emails of other schools. This allowed me to do research on other schools as well as the one I am in now!

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Lynn University

Boca Raton, FL

SUNY Morrisville

Morrisville, NY