The Next Level

Is grad school right for you? Here are a few things to consider.

Whether you’re thinking of a top-tier MBA or a PhD in anthropology, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach graduate school. You need to understand your dreams and what is required to achieve them. Also, you need to understand the marketplace and what it values.

If you dream of climbing ladders in the Fortune 500, get an MBA. The degree is a VIP ticket to corporate life and a prerequisite for the top ranks. And if you have the luck of being in your 20s, don’t wait; get the degree now, when it can get you a better starting job after you graduate.

If you’ve already made headway in your career, you’ll still need that MBA, but when you’re older it’s more like a career lubricant than a jump start—the degree has little influence on where you are now but prevents you from getting stuck later.

No matter if you’re considering an MBA, law school, medical school or any other type of graduate program, however, remember to be honest with yourself. Make sure you do your research and apply for the right reasons, not because you’re nostalgic for the days when you could get a good grade and a pat on the back.

If you believe graduate education is right for you, here’s a checklist of things you should do before you apply:
1. Try other jobs first. The people who do best in graduate school are those who don’t use it to escape their terrible job life. So find decent alternatives to going back to school, and if you still want to go back to school then you should.
2. Determine if an advanced degree is necessary, such as a law or medical degree. Talk to people who are where you want to be in five years to 10 years.
3. Take the passion test. Are you reading about your proposed graduate topic now, before you are in school? If you’re not passionate enough about the subject matter to read about it on your own, then you should find something to pursue that excites you more

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