Okay, it’s time to decide: Are you going to grad school or not? You’ve been circling around this decision for a while now and we’re here to help!
We talked to nurses who’ve been there, done that, and we’re ready to report back to you. Here are the five points that you can no longer ignore when making this major life decision.
1. Decide why you want to go. “Advancing my education and career” sounds great on a résumé, but it really doesn’t answer the age-old question of WHY.
Do you want a new job that requires an advanced degree? Or are you just unhappy with your current job? Are you thinking about short-term and long-term goals? Whatever your answer is, be honest! If your answer is, “I want to make more money,” you’ll want to evaluate which nursing career paths earn the most and what graduate degree could help you get there.
2. Decide how you want to go. It’s time to search deep within! Here are a few of the questions you’ll want to ask yourself when looking for the right program:
Are you a commuter? Or are you an online learner? Do you learn better in a traditional classroom? How disciplined are you with studying? Is your dream program a hybrid of online and traditional learning? How far will you have to travel? What about clinical experiences? Who will set those up?
3. Decide how you will afford it. This is sometimes the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Take into consideration the difference between a two-year journey and a five-year journey, as well as full-time versus part-time enrollment.
Though this part of the process can be more challenging, here are a few additional questions to consider: Will you take out loans? Will you be working full time? What will your budget be? Will your employer help pay? What scholarships are available?
4. Decide how you want to get in. Start your research now! Some graduate programs require standardized entrance exams (GRE, ACT, etc.), whereas others may require you to write a thesis paper during the program in order to graduate.
Think on: What type of work are you prepared to do? Will you study for an entrance exam? Are you able to commit to the demands of completing a thesis?
5. Decide where you want to go. Finally! The million-dollar question.
Is the school accredited and credible? Does the program matter? Do you want to study somewhere that prioritizes the needs of its students? Are you looking for a program that takes working students into consideration?
Um. Yes, yes and yes! We saved the best for last because the program you choose has to be the one that’s right for you. Advancing your career is an amazing opportunity, just be sure to do your homework. The goal is to make an educated and sound decision based on some deep soul searching, both personally and professionally.
Want to find out more about continuing your education? Visit our Next Level Nursing hub.