Anytime it’s time to make any big life decision, it’s important to think about all of the pro’s and con’s. Deciding whether or not to pursue your master’s degree is no different. Here are the top 5 things to consider to help you focus this particular “pro and con” list:
Let’s be honest, almost nobody leaves the first 4 years of college rolling in the metaphoric dough. So, understandably, one of the biggest concerns when it comes to deciding whether or not to pursue a master’s degree is the financial aspect. If you’re already in a lot of debt because of the first four years of college (and you might not be getting a decent salary yet) it might not be the smartest move to pile on more debt right away. It could be better to wait until you’ve paid off more of the initial debt first. However, there could be better scholarship options to you in the near future that might not be available later; do your research to fuel this aspect of the decision. You also need to do your research on whether or not there will be an increase in your expected salary with a master’s degree. Unless you’re relatively sure that pursuing another degree will pay off in the long run and not force you to acquire an unreasonable amount of debt, it might be best to wait until it will be more practical (if it will).
Depending on your major and field, it might not always be practical to pursue a master’s degree. With certain careers, you tend to make more money with a master’s degree, but with others the potential raise in a paycheck might not be worth the expense and time it takes to obtain a master’s degree. For some careers, it might be best to wait until an employer suggests that it could be a benefit to your advancement and/or are willing to help the process along in regard to working with your schedule and/or financial needs. For other careers, it could be common knowledge that a master’s degree will be expected eventually and you just need to figure out the best time to do so. Again, do your research.
Getting a master’s degree is going to take time, quite a bit of it. It’s important to consider the other things that you want to do in the next five years or so before committing the time it takes to get a whole new degree. For example, do you see yourself getting married and having children any time soon? This one can obviously go both ways since it might be smarter to get the degree out of the way now before starting a family, or maybe it’s a little late for that (it happens) and you don’t have the focus yet. Or maybe you haven’t traveled yet and you want to do that first. It’s important to be realistic about life’s tendency to get in the way before committing to a master’s program.
Do you realistically have the time? You have to be honest with yourself about how much time you actually have to commit to the degree. If you’re finding yourself working two jobs just to pay your bills and put a dent in that student loan debt, it might not be the time yet. If this is you, there are online options that might be a time saving (and maybe even money saving) options for you. If you find yourself with a decent amount of time to spare each week, this might be the time to go for it. If not, wait until you can free up enough time to stay focused.
Is it Worth it?
In the long run you have to balance your personal happiness, stresses, and goals to do what’s right for you. Maybe all of the research is pointing towards this being the ideal time to start applying for master’s programs and you have the time and determination to commit to it. Maybe you feel burned out and need a bit of time to weigh your options further. Or maybe you’ve decided a master’s degree isn’t all that important to your particular career and to your personal happiness so you would rather just stick with the career part of life. It’s all about what’s right for you and your life. Always remember to do what makes you happy.