4 questions to ask yourself before considering a graduate degree in education
For many professionals, an education graduate degree is a necessary step to climbing the ladder in their industry. For others, it helps them stand out from the competition. But graduate school is not for everyone. If you’ve been considering returning to school to earn your Master of Education, be sure to ask yourself these questions first.
1. What is my end goal?
Knowing what it is you would like to accomplish is the first step to reaching your goals. For many, a master of education is a vital tool to help them reach the next level of their career, but a graduate degree in education is not one size fits all.
If furthering your education has always been a part of your plan, take time to reevaluate whether another option may work better for you:
- Attending conferences
- On-the-job training
- Finding out what your school district takes into consideration when awarding promotions
- Looking for job opportunities in other districts that may pay more or have more opportunity for growth
2. What is the true cost?
Students, parents, and the media have spent much time debating tuition prices in the last decade, and one look at statistics will tell you why. In the 1981-1982 school year, the national average spent on tuition, fees, and room and board for a four-year undergraduate degree was $9,554. Fast-forward 30 years to the 2011-2012 school year, and that number is $23,066.
You can look for scholarships, grants or fellowships to help out with costs. Many institutions and nonprofits offer scholarships and other financial aid specifically for graduate students. And talk to your company’s human resources department to find out if your company does any kind of tuition reimbursement.
Your time is also valuable, and earning a master’s degree will demand time out of your day. You need to see a graduate program as a worthy investment of your time AND your money in order to consider applying.
3. Does it really make sense?
If you are going through major changes in your personal life, such as marriage, divorce or a move, it may be difficult for you to concentrate on school or put your financial resources into your education. Similarly, you need to take a look at where you are in your career. If you’ve been considering a move to another company or foresee a promotion in the near future, staying where you are could be a good decision.
Be sure that you’ve considered the consequences of choosing a graduate degree in education over your other options, just as you consider the options themselves.
4. What do my mentors and colleagues say?
While ultimately any decision you make in your career is your own, it is good to talk to others in your industry to find out their take on pursuing a graduate degree. As an undergraduate, you probably spoke to mentors and classmates about your next steps. Don’t let that change now that you are a professional.
These connections may not be career counselors or life coaches, but they know you and your industry, and will be able to give you some insight as to what a graduate degree in education could do to advance your career.
If you ask yourself these four questions and decide to move forward with graduate school, it’s time to start doing research on possible schools and programs.