[Guest Blog] 10 Questions to Ask Yourself: How To Choose The Right Grad School Program for You and Your Career
When I began my pursuit of grad school, I did all of the right stuff you’re supposed to do to get into an MBA program. I filled out admissions cards at MBA fairs, talked to admissions reps and alumni grads about their B-school experiences, and toured business schools across the country. I stocked my bookshelf with purple Kaplan guides to study for GMATs, and read books like Richard Montauk’s How to Get Into Top MBA Programs and Robert Miller’s Business School Confidential.
Then I started to question myself. Was an MBA what I really wanted, or was it what others expected of me? Why did I REALLY want the degree?
The truth is, something in my gut kept holding me back. I had networked with and met so many accomplished and amazing MBA graduates and visited beautiful campuses. But I couldn’t relate to their ambitions such as making a lot of money, and didn’t see myself working for top investment banks or climbing the ranks at management consulting firms.
Getting an MBA was the next logical step in my career. It was supposed to teach me about more areas of business, open new doors in the corporate world, and give me better career opportunities.
But for some inexplicable reason, it just didn’t feel right.
Be Honest with Yourself
When I put my MBA pursuit on hold and really thought about what I wanted to do and what I was passionate about, I realized that it actually had nothing to do with getting an MBA.
I also realized it made more sense financially for me to go to school part-time while working full-time, rather than to take 2 full years off and incur a lot of student debt. I also saw how important it was to choose a school where you click with the alumni.
Though I continue to respect MBA graduates to this day and have many friends who’ve gone down the MBA path, in the end I chose a grad school program that was right for me. I chose the MS Organization Development program at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business.
It is such an empowering feeling to choose a program that is right for you, and to be studying with a group of grad students who share similar career visions and values you do.
10 Questions To Ask Yourself
If you are thinking about going to grad school, kudos! I know it’s not an easy decision to make and there are so many different roads you can take. I suggest finding a quiet place, away from the hustle and bustle of your busy work and happy hours, to really think about why you want to go to grad school.
Answering these 10 questions honestly will help you find the right graduate school program for all of the right reasons. These questions will help you choose a program that’s right for you and your career, whether it’s a Business School, Law School, or a specialized Master’s program… or simply no grad school program at all.
- Forget about what others expect of you. Why do you want your degree?
- What do you plan to do with your degree once you have it?
- Can you accomplish your career goals without your degree?
- Have you visited the schools of your choice? How did you like the campus culture?
- Have you met current students and alumni? What do you think about their stories and values? Could you see yourself going to school with them?
- What is the school and program’s reputation and strengths?
- How strong is the alumni network and career services for students, and what are graduates of the program currently doing?
- Will you pursue the program full-time, or part-time while working?
- How will you pay for the program? (Savings, student loans, financial aid, scholarships.)
- Be honest. What drives you? What are you passionate about?
By asking yourself these 10 questions and answering them honestly, you’ll be on your way to choosing which grad school program is right for you. Most importantly, you will choose a grad school program for all the right reasons.
Christie Cruz is a graduate student at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business, pursuing her Master’s of Science in Organization Development (MSOD) with an emphasis in global change management. She is attending grad school part-time while balancing a full-time job at a Silicon Valley solar company.
She manages her website ChristieCruz.com as a San Francisco-based career advisor for global young professionals providing job search, career management, networking, relationship building, and work life balance advice.