I thought I would write something for all the newbies to this blog and especially to those who are only still in those first few weeks of considering grad school and have come across this blog, somehow, to find out more about grad school and what’s involved in getting in.
Why do you want to go to graduate school?
It is a simple question, but one that deserves a lot of thought. I see too many students with poorly justified motivations for wanting to go to graduate school.
Regardless of whether or not you have an excellent GPA and outstanding standardized test scores, if you don’t have a clear reason for going to graduate school, you will probably not be able to convince anyone on the graduate selection committee or your potential graduate supervisor that you are the person they should choose for their program.
The purpose behind graduate studies in most fields is to turn promising students into skilled specialists who are well suited to a specific range of careers. Therefore, it is really important to consider whether an online Ph.D. degree or some other advanced degree will really help you achieve your long-term goals.
Many students expect that they will figure out what they want to do either during or after graduate school, but that’s really not the ideal way to approach it. You really need to work this out BEFORE you apply to graduate school, because the success of your applications will depend partly on your ability to explain in your personal statement, cover letter and even pre-selection interviews, why a particular advanced degree is needed for your specific career aspirations.
Picking a graduate program that matches your objectives (career objectives or the type of training you want) determines how much success you have in getting into a graduate or professional program. Don’t underestimate the importance of this match.
Consider each potential graduate program and determine whether completing that program will actually help get you from point A (the here and now) to point B (eventual career). To be able to answer that, you had better figure out what you want. Read more on clarifying your expectations of graduate school before you begin.
If you do not have the least bit of an idea of what you want to do with your life, you may want to considering getting some career counselling or life coaching. Or, perhaps some reflection and a relevant book on the topic might be enough to draw up a reasonable career plan for yourself over the next 5 to 10 years.
Whatever you do to figure out your future career, do not just assume that graduate school is the obvious option or for that matter, the only option.
Also, check out this related article I wrote for MyGraduateSchool.com on choosing the right graduate program.