Had to Leave Undergrad Alone to Get my Mind Right: 5 Questions I Asked Myself about Grad School

Photo:  AdobeStock

Photo: AdobeStock


If you’re like me and undergrad took entirely too much energy, time, and money… graduate school can seem like a laughable proposition. Throughout college, I was always told that graduate school is where the top scholars go, if you want to be elite you must have an elite school name behind you and a degree that is too complex for the common folk to decipher. When I looked at it through this lens it was never something that I wanted to pursue.


Once I graduated I had time to reflect and thought more about how my future. In terms of graduate school I came up with a set of questions that if I had the right answers, I would pursue this path. This post will be focused on the questions. I will follow up with a later post on how I answered the questions.


1. Why do I want to go?

After being caught in many YouTube/TedTalk binge sessions, I decided to start with why. This question is important because you must convince yourself that your reason is better than all the loan costs you’ll (hopefully not) incur, people questioning your decision, and the all-nighters that you’ll be signing yourself up for.


2. What do I know about the process?

“Trust the Process” – but to trust the process you should know the parameters in which the process lives. Finding mentors and tools like our blog are great starting points to know how to set yourself up for success in finding the right fit for your future.


3. What weaknesses can I work on?

Listen. In my opinion the best skill you can have is to be self-aware. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A PERFECT APPLICANT and I hate to break it to you but YOU’RE NOT PERFECT. To quote the great philosopher Aubrey Graham, “Know yourself, know your worth.” Take the time to practice writing, understand business decision models or learn a new coding language. Being able to work on your weaknesses will not only help you succeed in a graduate program, but can help you in the application process. That is a story that you can craft on entrance essays that can make you a memorable candidate.


4. Will this degree/institution change my core values?

Any experience that you have in life will ultimate help shape the person you are. We often are shown figures in the media and online that realize too late that they have turned from who they used to be. When choosing a program or school, it is important to know the culture, values and type of education you’ll be getting. It’s not built like undergrad where it is easy to change your major or transfer schools. Be diligent and sure that you will be coming out of the process with who you saw yourself becoming going in. Visualization is key!



(On second thought, this is probably question #1!)

Ask yourself, how much are you willing to pay for an acronym behind your name? As a Business Major I urge you to really take this into account. Graduate school is a tall expense and there are a lot of different ways to fund your education if you are proactive. One thing I would caution though is doing it because someone is willing to pay for it. If your why is only because it is free unless you’re highly money motivated or it will drastically change your life, don’t do it. On that same token, if your company offers tuition remission or benefits and you don’t truly love your organization you could be stuck for a few years. Be smart and if you’re very solid in your WHY it will allow you to make the best decisions no matter the price.


I hope that these questions will help you like they helped me. Stay tuned for the next edition where I will breakdown my answers!


About the Author

Maconel James is a recent graduate of Towson University, where he received a B.A. in Business Administration with a focus in International Business. In the near future, he plans to obtain a MBA from a top business school. He is excited to share his journey to and through graduate school to help motivate others to reach their true educational goals. He currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland and has recently started a career as a Talent Acquisition Professional.

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