Guest post by Jung Fitzpatrick, who coordinates Idealist’s Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center.
The challenging thing about deciding to apply for graduate school is that each person’s situation is unique. Here are a few things to think about:
You can gain skills and knowledge in a number of ways.
Grad school is just one of them. If you feel you’re in a rut at your current job, perhaps you should talk to your supervisor to see if
you can take on new responsibilities or projects. You can also start looking for another job. If you are unemployed, you can always volunteer or intern with an organization – perhaps even proposing a project that would benefit the organization and allow you to learn and gain some new skills.
Alternatively you can sign up for classes such as continuing education courses or local professional development workshops.
Grad school costs money.
Unless you are applying for a doctoral level program that will fund your education, most professional masters programs charge tuition. Even with financial aid, mostly in the form of student loans, you will be responsible for the cost of your degree. There are some programs that offer free tuition to their students, but they are competitive and
usually have specific eligibility requirements. The National Urban Fellows is a full-tuition fellowship for mid-career professionals of color who are interested in getting a Masters in Public Administration. Forte Foundation works with business schools to recruit more women and offers full-tuition through its Forte Fellows program. These sorts of programs are few and far between, though.
With some research, flexibility and creativity, you may be able to reduce the cost of a graduate education. Read more about financing your graduate education.
There are alternatives to full-time graduate study.
You can work while you study, or get a certificate in a degree area. These alternatives may also help you afford further education.
If you’re unfazed by cost and really feel that grad school will give you an opportunity to achieve your goals, then you can read these articles for your next steps. You can also check to see if one of our remaining Idealist.org Graduate Degree Fairs for the Public Good is coming to a city near you this fall!
Best of luck!