*Interestingly my great-grandfather earned a Master's degree and was ABD on his doctorate in rural sociology in the 1930's. But other than that I'm the first.
Part 1: Have You Done Your Homework?
- Name the professional society whose meetings you would attend to present your research. (2 points)
- What is the average starting salary for people with and without your target degree to within $10k? (2 points)
- What is the mid-career salary for people with and without your degree to within$10k? (1 point)
- Have you talked to someone who has your desired graduate degree? (face to face = 3 points, email = 2 points, heard someone speak about it to a group = 1 point)
- Can you name the standardize test you need to take to get in? (1 point)
- Do you know how long it takes to get your desired degree? (1 point)
- Do you know how students in your desired program are supported financially? (1 point)
Part 2: Will You Survive?
- What is your undergraduate university ranked by US News? (Top 10 = 5 points, Top 50 = 3 points, Top 100 = 1 point)
- Did you graduate with honors? (summa cum laude = 3 points, magna cum laude = 2 points, cum laude = 1 point)
- What was your total undergraduate GPA? ( 3.75 or higher = 3 points, 3.50 to 3.75 = 2 points, 3.25 to 3.50 = 1 point)
- Honestly compare yourself with the best student in your major. That person is... (Clearly you = 4 points, Maybe you = 3 points, A little better than you = 2 points, In the same league as you = 1 point)
Part 3: Is It Worth It?
- Calculate the difference in average lifetime salary between the average person with your Bachelor's degree and the average person with your desired graduate degree (including tuition and lost salary while in grad school). Are you comfortable with that number? (2 points)
- Honestly asses what schools you can get into and then ask your spouse or significant other if they would like to live in those places for the average time it takes to get your desired degree. If single, ask a friend of the opposite sex this question. (smiling yes = 4 points, yes = 3 points, sigh followed by yes = 2 points, "if that's where we need to go" = 1 point)
- Honestly asses what schools you can get into and then ask yourself if you would like to live in those places for the average time it takes to get your desired degree. (smiling yes = 4 points, yes = 3 points, sigh followed by yes = 2 points, "if that's where we need to go" = 1 point)
- Would you be happy living for the average time it takes to get your desired degree with whatever kind of financial support you are likely to get. Remember this may include some serious student loans. (3 points)
- What percentage of people currently holding your dream job hold your desired degree? (75% or more = 5 points, 50% to 75% = 3 points, 25% to 50% = 1 point)
Obviously 3 strikes (or more) and you're out. Go get a job and be happy.
If you have 0 or less then what are you waiting for? Get to grad school ASAP.
If you have 1 I would recommend grad school, but you should probably dip your toes in the job market as well.
If you have 2 strikes I would recommend against grad school immediately. Go get a job and see how things feel again in a year or so. I can say from personal experience that my program, for one, doesn't see a year or two away from school as a negative on an application and in many cases it can be a positive. You might as well be earning a decent salary while you figure things out.
Comments? Suggestions? Name-calling? Please let me know what you think.