How Many Years of School Should You Actually Take?

Postgraduate study can be a very rewarding experience. But it's also incredibly tough, not to mention expensive, so you'll want to be sure that it's the right choice for you. Are you considering carrying on because you don't know what you want to do with your life, or to avoid joining the 'real world'? What course should you take? Here are some points to help you decide whether continued study is right for you …

1. Career Prospects

One important factor to consider is whether further study will enhance your career prospects. Postgraduate study is a must for some careers, so if you're intending to pursue one of those careers you won't have a choice. If it's not a requirement, you'll still need to consider how useful it will be, either specifically or through the general skills you'll pick up - few people can afford to study for the fun of it.

2. Costs

The costs involved in postgraduate study will also be a major factor in deciding whether to continue. Do you have the funds? Can you apply for a loan or a grant, and will you be able to afford to pay the loan back? There's no guarantee of a lucrative career afterwards, and you'll already be paying off substantial undergraduate loans.

3. Compare Courses

Next, you should look at the different courses that interest you. You may already be interested in a particular course at your current college, but it's worth comparing it with those at other colleges. Don't just stick with what you know; it needs to be the right course for you.

4. How Good is the Course?

You should also look closely at how good the courses are, and what prospects it leads to. How good is the employment rate for alumni of that course? What have previous students gone on to do? Check how many have found suitable employment that justifies the expense and effort required.

5. Are You Prepared for the Leap to the Next Level?

Postgraduate study is much, much harder than undergraduate study. Are you prepared to make that leap? You'll be expected to develop greater skills in analysing and understanding - and may also have to do much more independent study than before. Nobody will be holding your hand. It can come as a real shock to people used to the more undemanding undergrad courses.

6. Will It Get You Where You Want to Go

If you have a career plan in mind, will doing this course get you where you want to go? You may be interested in a course that you'll enjoy, but that is not so relevant to the career you want to follow. Look at the long-term picture; there's no point in doing a course that won't lead you where you want to go.

7. Is It Just an Evading Tactic

Are you trying to avoid joining the working world and leaving the fun student environment? Or are you keen on studying because you don't think you'll get a job? Colleges are full of people who have no real plans for their future, and are just studying because they don't know what else to do. This is all very well if you can afford it, but even then it's really just killing time.

Do you have any regrets about studying, or has it been the best years of your life so far?