Once upon a time young people finished high school or college, got a job, and worked at the same company for an entire career, retiring 25, 30, and even 40 or more years. Most people work for a new employer every few years and some change careers almost as often in our days. Graduate study has become an important tool for professionals who wish to change gears and get the education and experience needed for a second, third, or even fourth career. In order to earn promotions and raises, some people decide to attend graduate school because their employers require advanced degrees. Others wish to change careers and need additional education to accomplish their goals. Some people simply took a long time figuring out what they want to do with their lives. Still, other people return to graduate school to satisfy their own curiosity - to learn for the sake of learning. All of these are good reasons to choose graduate study.  It's important to determine your own reasons and whether those reasons merit several years of challenge and sacrifice that accompany graduate study while there are many reasons to attend graduate school.

Going back to a school in midlife

Review these issues as they are important to most adults who are making the decision of whether to return to school as you consider whether to apply to graduate school. Some students find that their jobs do not interfere with graduate study. Most of the master’s programs permit part-time students. However, most doctoral programs admit only full time students. Often doctoral programs limit or even prohibit students from outside employment. Graduate school itself is expensive. It is much more expensive when you consider the loss of income from leaving a career and its associated benefits such as health insurance, for example. Will you have access to health insurance while you are a student? In case you are a single parent, this issue may be particularly important. Usually graduate programs prohibiting students form working offer opportunities to earn tuition remission and a stipend. For example, many grad students work on campus and in their departments as research and teaching assistants, but these positions offer only a small stipend - yet also offer some tuition remission. Such as scholarships and loans, most of the students rely on several sources on financial aid. The question is, after having an adult income, can you go back to living on student wages? Can you imagine yourself (and/or your family) eating Ramen Noodles for a few years? Lots of adults return to graduate school and are shocked by the workload. Graduate study is way different from college. Every graduate student, regardless of age, is taken aback by the workload and the nature of the work. This is especially true at the doctoral level. Students who breezed through college often begin a graduate program thinking that it's more of the same. Surprise! His or her support can make a tremendous difference in case you are lucky enough to have a spouse.