An Alumni Perspective: Is Grad School Worth It?

If you’re considering attending graduate school, you might be wondering: ” Is grad school worth it?” Given the cost of earning an advanced degree, this is a very common question for prospective students to have. Whether you are still paying off student loans from your undergraduate experience or you have a new family to provide for, nearly everyone wonders how they will manage to pay for a graduate education.

The Many Benefits of a Graduate Education

At my graduation ceremony in 2016, I sat next to a couple of my classmates whom I only knew virtually, since the program was 100 percent online. My classmates were from all over the US: one woman was from Texas, one was from California, and another was from Virginia. As we got to talking, all four of us could point to obvious ways that our master’s degrees in higher education administration were worth the investment.

The woman from Texas mentioned that, over the course of the program, she had the opportunity to write about topics that piqued her interest so much that she ultimately led to her taking a role working in study abroad and student affairs. She also mentioned that a few of her courses opened her eyes to a whole different way of thinking, giving her new perspectives that were helpful to her both personally and professionally. Perhaps most valuable of all, she felt this degree was a pathway to advancing her knowledge, and ultimately her career,  in the field she loves most.

My classmate from California agreed that the program was helpful in advancing her career; she was now better equipped in her role and was able to take on additional responsibilities and skills. She enjoyed being able to collaborate with so many talented and enriching educators across the globe, and she now had contacts in other fields and states. We all agreed that the power and extent of the Northeastern network were among the greatest benefits of the degree, opening the door to many future opportunities. The exposure to different types of jobs and departments in higher education also opened her eyes to other areas of interest she could move into, as her career progressed.

My Virginia-based classmate mentioned that as soon as she received her master’s degree, her boss immediately gave her a raise—what a direct return on investment! She saw an increase in pay as a result of her hard work and commitment to education. She noted that it was inspiring to see all the accomplishments of our classmates and how far we had all come since stepping into the classroom on our first day.

For me, hearing these women describe how their graduate program was worth it made me feel confident that I made the right choice. I shared similar perspectives and thought the program made me more knowledgeable, proficient, and confident that I could advance myself and my career to the best of my ability.

Keys to Consider:

Keep these important points in mind when deciding if graduate school is worth it to you:

  • Research all funding options (e.g. scholarships, grants, graduate loans, employer assistance, etc.) to maximize your benefits.
  • Consider the diverse, eye-opening perspectives that you will gain through your program.
  • Know that you will learn new techniques and industry-relevant skills that will help you take your career to the next level.
  • Keep in mind the potential for a promotion and pay raise immediately after you receive your degree.
  • Know that there will be others like you who are nervous but excited to take this next step in their lives.
  • Be proud of your decision—you can do this!