ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled Saved to Favorites.
Articles / Applying to College / Your Guide to Going to Graduate School

Your Guide to Going to Graduate School

Rob Franek
Written by Rob Franek | Dec. 16, 2020
Your Guide to Going to Graduate School


If you're deciding if and when to go to grad school, there are several factors for you to consider, particularly during a pandemic. Ask the following questions to help determine what route is best for you.

What Are Your Career Goals?

The most important question is whether graduate school is necessary for your career. To figure this out, try to conduct informational interviews with people who hold positions you're drawn to and make an appointment with someone in your career center for additional guidance.

If you do find out that graduate school helps you land your dream job or advance your career, you'll still need to determine when to go. Some industries, like technology, government and pharmaceuticals, prefer a candidate who has some work experience in addition to a master's degree (which some employees earn on the side while working full-time). For other jobs that require a PhD or which are in academia, check out available job openings, programs with strong tenure-track placement history, and whether field experience makes you a more competitive candidate. Before you invest time into your application (and years in an advanced degree program!), you'll want to know you've taken all the appropriate steps for success.

Are There Programs Structured in Your Preferred Format?

Do you want to work while earning a graduate degree? Do you prefer to attend class online, in-person, or maybe a little bit of both? These are important questions even in a post-pandemic world! Having the flexibility to switch between part-time or full-time during different semesters may mean you can take an entry level job in your field while working toward a degree (and a promotion).

Unfortunately, the pandemic has shown that none of us can predict how graduate programs may adjust their structures. You can, however, research how they've handled the situation thus far. Talk to admissions officers about what changes have been made and interview current students about how their experience has been. Some conversation starters that can offer you important insight include:

For admission officers…

  • How have admission requirements (like standardized tests) changed?
  • Have required in-person experiences like internships or job shadowing been adapted or dropped from the program?
  • Have financial aid or program costs been impacted by COVID-19?
For current students…
  • How do you feel about your program's ability to adapt to the challenges of remote learning?
  • What resources are available to students to help them succeed at online learning?
  • Do you feel that you are still learning the skills necessary to succeed in your future career?

What Else Do You Have Going on in Your Life?

You likely have other responsibilities and goals beyond completing graduate school. Whether you need to support your parents, or you want to start a family or move to a different city, you should seriously consider whether you want to do both at the same time. Graduate school and, well, life, can be challenging and stressful. It's certainly possible to do both, but it's up to you to decide how you want to spend your time, money and mental energy. What worked for one person may not be right for you. That's why it's important to trust your gut and thoroughly research programs that are compatible with your specific situation.

Ultimately, if you decide going to graduate school is right for you, the best time to go is when you feel you can be most successful. As you consider your career and life goals, financial health and the challenges brought on by COVID-19, be honest with what will best serve you. Graduate school is a long road, so be sure that you have a map to follow for the journey. For more updates on admissions during COVID-19 and study tips and tricks, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Written by

Rob Franek

Rob Franek

College Admissions and Test Prep Expert

More on Applying to College

See all

What are College Likely Letters and How Do You Get One?

In the U.S. college system, "Likely Letters" are excellent news for the select few who receive them. Colleges don'…

Copy of Articles & Guidance

Tips for Applying to College as a Trans Student

Choosing where to apply and applying to college is hard enough, but when you’re trans, non-binary, genderfluid, or genderqueer, t…


5 Reasons to Fall in Love With Quinnipiac

Between the Mount Carmel Campus, York Hill Campus and North Haven Campus, Quinnipiac offers something for everyone. It’s no wonde…

How to Transfer to a New College: A 5-Step Plan

How to Transfer to a New College: A 5-Step Plan

It happens from time to time – you've started college, but you realize that perhaps your university wasn't the best cho…

Student in bed on computer in dimly room

Which of Two (Opposite) Colleges Should I Choose?

Question: I'm trying to decide between 2 schools that at first seem very similar: Both are small, private liberal arts colle…

Ace the SAT in Just 10 Minutes a Day!

Discover how you can make your college journey easier.

Get Started
Need Help Paying for College?
VIew Offers