Working while in grad school isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible.
If you’re thinking of going back to school. And not sure whether to work while in grad school. You’re in the right place.
The good news is that you have options. Go to school full-time and not work. Take classes part-time and work part-time. Or work full-time and go to school part-time.
It’s up to you. To help you decide, we’ve compiled a list of the pros and cons of working while in grad school.
Can you work and do a master’s at the same time?
Yes, it’s possible to work and do a master’s degree at the same time.
76% of graduate students work at least 30 hours a week, according to a report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
To work and do a master’s at the same time. You’ll need good time management skills and discipline.
Should you work while going to grad school?
Whether you should work while going to grad school is a decision only you can make. You know your situation better than anyone else.
To help you decide, here are some pros and cons of working while in grad school.
Pros of Working While in Grad School
1. You get work experience plus a degree
One of the benefits of working while in grad school is getting real-world work experience. In most fields, it takes more than a degree to get ahead.
So having both a degree and work experience will give you an advantage.
It can make you more attractive to companies looking for well-rounded people. 91% of employers say they prefer candidates with relevant work experience, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
If you already have a job in your field, think carefully before giving it up for school. A master’s degree can’t guarantee you employment.
Keeping your job while getting a complementary degree could be the right move for you.
2. You have more time to change your mind
Working and studying mean you complete school at a slower pace. The benefit is that you have more time to change your mind.
And you’ll have fewer regrets.
If you decide the degree is no longer right for you. You can withdraw before committing to the entire program.
A 2017 Gallup study found that 51% of Americans who pursued higher education would change either their degree type, where they attended school or their major.
Slowing down the process by working through graduate school gives you more time to make sure the field of study is actually right for you.
3. You’ll have less student loan debt
Working while in grad school can help you reduce your student loan debt. As of 2019, the U.S. student loan debt, spread out across 44.7 million borrowers, is a shocking $1.59 trillion, according to a study by Motley Fool.
If the thought of more debt makes you nervous. You have some options. There are ways working and studying can help reduce your debt. Here are some of them:
Working while going to school gives you the following options:
1. Skip loans and pay for classes up front (Pay as you go)
2. Find out if your company offers tuition assistance
3. Pay off your loans while you’re still in school
Working while in grad school gives you more flexibility with your finances.
Recommended Blog Post: 50 Graduate Scholarships for Women
4. You can maintain your lifestyle
Another benefit of working while getting a master’s is maintaining your standard of living.
After enjoying some of the finer things in life. You won’t wanna go back. Downsizing is easier said than done.
If you like a little luxury, every once in a while. Working while in grad school can help you maintain that.
You’ll still have to make some sacrifices. But at least you can keep living your best life throughout grad school.
Cons of Working While in Grad School
1. You’ll take longer to get your degree
The tradeoff of working while in graduate school is that it’ll take you longer to complete your degree. The more hours you spend at work.
The less time you’ll have for courses.
A benefit of being a full-time grad student is the freedom to take as many courses as you’d like. If spending years in school doesn’t appeal to you. Reconsider working full-time while in grad school.
2. You’ll miss networking opportunities at school
One of the best parts of being a grad student is building a network of people in your field. You’ll likely miss opportunities to connect with classmates and professors if you choose to work while getting a master’s.
Working means you may not get the student experience that comes with being in grad school. If this is important to you, consider if the trade-off is worth it.
It’s still possible to build a community while working. But you’ll need to be intentional about it.
3. You’ll have less time to study
Another downside of working while studying is having less time for your schoolwork. Between work and school. You’ll have a lot competing for your time.
If you decide to work while studying, get clear about your priorities. Going back to school is an investment. And you want a return on that investment.
That means studying should be one of your top priorities. You’ll need to work harder to find study time. And be willing to make sacrifices.
4. You’ll have to sacrifice opportunities at work
If you plan to balance work and school, you’ll need to be flexible. Your job is no exception. Going back to school means you may have to pass up opportunities at work.
If projects come up that excites you. But your homework is piling up. You may have to miss out. It doesn’t mean you have to do the bare minimum at work.
It means you have to think carefully about the extra tasks you take on.
Speak to your employer about your school commitments so that everyone’s on the same page. Make it clear to them how your education benefits the company.
How to decide whether to work while in grad school
Now that you know the pros and cons of working while in grad school. It’s time to decide what makes sense for you.
If you’re still undecided about working and studying, here are some questions to ask yourself.
Questions to help you decide whether to work while in grad school:
- Am I in a rush to get my degree?
- Am I willing to sacrifice my lifestyle to go back to school?
- Do I have other options to pay for school?
- Does my employer offer tuition assistance?
- Will my job give me enough flexibility to be a good student?
- Am I disciplined enough to balance both priorities?
Whether to work while in grad school is a decision only you can make. Hopefully, this makes your decision that much easier.
If you’re not sure where to start. Start by joining our community with thousands of learners worldwide. It’s free! Plus you get instant access to our Career Level Up Center when you join.
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Over to You
Should you work while in grad school? Head over to our comments section on social @netwerkmovement and let us know. Share this with someone thinking of going back to school.