questionsdid you go to grad school? any insite for a…


Congratulations on your future graduation.


Depends on your focus. For the sciences, I'd say it's worth it if you want to run your own lab or teach.

Also, make sure you're ready for 5 years of abuse. :) Followed by 3-5 more after your graduate.


Congrats! I was in that same boat last year, and here I am at my first semester of grad school.

-I agree with the above statement of being prepared for years of abuse
---unless you're the theoretical type, many classes will be a waste of time
------but that's coming from my experience, which is probably different in many other fields
-the master's degree is required for the job I want, so that's why I'm here
-it's super expensive, so try and find funding ASAP
-once you get to school, the most important thing will be experience, so make sure you stand out
---get a job (or two, or three) that will give you experience
---find research opportunities
---get involved
---if you have to do an internship, try to do one for a company that you would like to work for
-for my program, coursework doesn't really matter, but the experience while you're going to school is the only thing that will actually stand out (other than the name and place of your degree) on your resume

(continued below)



If you're gonna go:
-apply now, it takes FOREVER
---most applications are due January 15th, but I had one due December 1, which I did not figure out until November 28 (and still made it on time, and got accepted)
-plan to go visit the schools, even if they're across country
---the reason why I have a scholarship (yep, no assistantships in my field) is because I went to visit each school to show them I was serious


Depends how you are planning to pay for it. If you don't get an assistantship you are looking at $100,000 plus for a Ph.D.
So, my advice is to do the math whether the cost of school will covered by increased income in the future.


@atd15: But also take into consideration the job it will give you - if you are going to be much more happy with the job that you want because of the PhD, it definitely needs to be a part of the formula, even though you can't attach a dollar amount to it.


Get a job or TA position that will pay tuition. If you end up having to pay for your grad school, you're doing it wrong.

Name matters some. That is, a crap school will drag you down. The difference between a decent - superb school is a lot less than between decent - for-profit university. I'm guessing you know this as you're almost done with your undergrad (Congratulations, by the way!)

Make sure it's worth it, the PhD is a lot of work if all you want to do coming out of school is flip burgers or something. Make absolutely sure you want to do research or teach, because that's what a PhD really opens up for you above and beyond a masters or bachelors. I'm working on my masters right now, and it's becoming vital in my engineering field, but I have little interest in research, which is why I'm not keen on a PhD.

Still remember to relax. Work yourself into a tizzy and you'll make yourself sick!

And congrats again!


Please, please ask yourself this question:

"Why am I going to graduate school?" If you do not have a very, very good answer to that question I would suggest deferring your application until you do. I can barely count the number of friends from college who started graduate school, mainly because it "seemed like the thing to do", only to drop out after a year or two.

Be certain that you want to do this, and you have a firm plan for the degree. If not, I'd suggest getting a job, maybe join the Peace Corps, or just move to Washington state and get stoned for a few years. All would be preferable to wasting a few years of your life because you just followed what appeared to be an easy path.


I agree with those guys/gals ^. Make sure you know EXACTLY how that PhD is going to help you do what you want to do before you jump at it. You're old enough now to have a plan; if you don't yet have a plan, then don't take extra classes that may not help.

If you plan on working in industry and not academia, get experience. I've had friends graduate with a Master's (in Engineering, no less) and have no job waiting where one of the big reasons was that even with a good grad GPA they had little or no industry experience (research experience is okay, but not as respected to industry).

My personal advice: graduate, get a job. Work job for a semester or more, then get job to pay to put you through school. It's what I'm doing (I've got a couple of semesters left on my Master's) and I haven't paid a dime for school or had to work any TA jobs or grovel for fellowships.


Study hard for the GRE and make sure you can talk about your achievements effectively. Research different schools and programs that interest you... Different schools have different directions within their departments. Having a couple of education classes under your belt never hurts when going through grad school.

Also, make sure you spell insight correctly :P


Gonna add my $.02. Been a few years since I got my PhD, but most of this should still be relevant.

As others have said, make sure a PhD is what you need for what you want to do. I've wound up overqualified for some jobs that I would have liked. My thinking is that a BS is a basic toolkit, a MS is a professional toolkit, and a PhD is a machine shop where you can manufacture any tool that doesn't exist.

Also, what field is your PhD going to be in? As a rule of thumb, a PhD in many hard sciences/engineering can lead to a higher salary or more advanced position. A social sciences/liberal arts PhD, not so much. No judgement there - just hard facts. My degree in statistics commands a much higher salary than my wife's in Psychology.

If you want to teach, how competitive is the market for the field you want to study?

Does the university you are applying to have a "big name" in the field? I managed to get one on my committee! It counts a bit.



Do you like where the school is located? You're going to be there for 5+ years. If you hate it now, you are really going to hate it before you are done.

Know yourself. I thought that if I got a job out of undergrad, I'd be unlikely to give up the $ to go back for an advanced degree. For others, the opposite is true.

Tutoring can bring in decent $ if you need a little extra.

Getting a recommendation from someone who graduated from the school you want to go to counts extra!

Don't get discouraged - make sure you stick with the application process. I didn't but got luck with the two schools I applied to.

Again, make sure you really want to be in that field. Otherwise, you're going to come out the other side and think "Why am I not using my degree?"

Remember that a PhD makes you an expert in a narrow slice of your field. You wind up doing several years research into one specific thing - its called your dissertation. Try to keep your knowledge as broad as possible.

Good luck!


I'm working full time and taking grad school in the evenings. The main reason that I didn't go full time is as others have mentioned, grad school is very expensive, and since we're in a recession, there's very little funding to be had right now. Working full time with classes in the evenings is very demanding, but my employer's will to pay for my tuition for me. Many, but not all, employers are willing to do this, so I'd urge you to look into it.

I'll also stress the already mentioned point that you shouldn't go to grad school unless you know why you want to and what benefit it will have. It's ok to work in industry for a few years first, then go back to school.

That said, where do you want to work when you're finished with your education? If it's industry or government, I highly stress the importance of work experience. If you go, get multiple internships while in grad school. Employers won't be impressed by your degree if you don't have relevant work experience.


Education is never a bad thing.


All I can say is graduate school was an experience. I suggest you brush up on your BS skills because for an analytically person like myself it was rather painful. Way to much theoretical stuff in my opinion. I suffered through 3 years and now have the student loan debt to show for it! :) haha. Maybe :( is more like it. I commend you on furthering your studies and congrats on graduating.


Finishing my PhD this semester & much of this list rings true for me


@axphw1: This is great and so true. Perfect post! +1


I have one line of advice that one of my friends/professors gave me before I went to grad school. Best advice I've ever received:

Keep your head down and drink.


@jimmyd103: Thanks! I do have to say that I only saw this a few months ago, but I'm not sure it would have dissuaded me from going if that counts for anything.


It's vitally important that you have a good relationship with your major professor. Do not underestimate that. It can make or break you in terms of your success in graduate school. My major professor and I didn't get along well, and it led to me having an absolutely horrible experience.