By Laura Morrison, September 2014
Many people find that their 30’s are the time to buckle down and start working towards achieving their long term goals. If earning a graduate degree is something you’ve always considered doing now may be the perfect time to start working towards this goal. Here are 30 reasons why your 30’s may be the best time for you to earn a graduate degree:
If you spent your 20’s “discovering yourself;” making mistakes, and exploring your career options you might want to take the lessons you learned in your 20’s and start working towards achieving your long-term educational and career goals.
If you were an undergraduate who spent more time focused on social experiences rather than actually learning in your classes’, graduate school may be the opportunity for you to discover the rewards applying yourself academically might bring.
Congratulations! You have a job with benefits! If you are fortunate enough to have an employer that offers incentive programs to help cover the costs of graduate school it might be a good idea to take advantage of these opportunities.
It seems that the older you get, the harder it is to meet new people. Enrolling in a graduate program might be a good way to expand your social circle by meeting people who share your interests.
Let’s be honest, when you’re the partying age, it’s sometimes hard to prioritize studying over all of your other distractions.
When you’re a little older and you’ve put the days of all night drinking and next day hangovers behind you, earning a graduate degree may seem like a great way to spend your free time.
When you’re in your 30’s, you start developing a different mindset. Oftentimes, a part of that new mindset involves seriously planning your future instead of living day to day. If earning a graduate degree is one of your bucket list items, perhaps it’s time to cross it off the list.
Whether it’s fair or not, there are times when your access to new career opportunities may be restricted by your level of educational attainment. Regardless of your level of professional experience, you might be overlooked for a position if you do not have the proper degrees. Earning an advanced degree might potentially open a lot of doors for you, even at your current organization.
If you have somehow found yourself working at a job where you are responsible for setting an example for those working under you, earning your graduate degree might show your team that you are a dedicated, ambitious leader worthy of their respect.
Your brain is a muscle, and just like any muscle in your body, if you don’t exercise it, it will get weak and not work as well as it used to. Therefore, keeping your brain active allows for it to stay in “great shape” and may keep you more alert, focused.
It can be said that working the same job, day after day, can get boring. When you’re younger, you’re constantly bombarded with new information and a big challenge is to focus in on what interests you and what you want to pursue professionally. When you’re older, you may no longer be in a situation where you’re being presented with new information. Learning a new skill entirely can snap you out of a mundane and repetitive routine.
As a young professional you have had time to hone your expertise in your field, graduate school is an opportunity for you to share your experiences, learn from the mistakes and triumphs of your classmates, and start to figure out how to do what you do more effectively. The educational experience within this context has the potential to be much more enriching for you than for an inexperienced 20 something.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings, for individuals aged 25 and over, with a master’s degree are nearly 20% greater than the median weekly earnings of an individual with a bachelor’s degree. (Source: http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm)
Not unlike the questionable hair and wardrobe decisions you have made in your past, it is possible that you have also found yourself wondering why you chose to pursue a career in your current field. If you view your current career path in the same light as you do those frosted tips you rocked in the 90’s and early 2000's, perhaps it’s time to update your skill set to help you pursue your current interests.
Whereas your undergraduate experience may have helped you build a social network, grad school might be an opportunity to build your professional network. You might meet people that are serious about the future of their career and are likely to be in the same field as you. Making contacts in this regard may come in handy as you move forward.
Completing a difficult task along with the feeling of earning something that takes dedication and hard work is a great confidence booster. Doing something to change the way that you feel about yourself, may lead to more positive changes in your future.
The cost of travelling, especially internationally is high. Many grad school programs build trips into their curriculum that may serve to expand your education and enrich your life with experiences that you might not otherwise have the opportunity to take part in.
Everyone’s heard accounts of people being the “first in their family,” whether that was to graduate high school, college, etc. As time goes on, grad school degrees are becoming the new elusive academic achievement sought after. Thinking about having children of your own, or maybe you just want to be a good example for your nephew or niece? Show the next generation the doors of opportunity that might be opened by earning an advanced degree.
In grad school, Professors and Counselors can not only prove to be an inspiration, but because they specialize in the field you wish to be a part of, you will have an chance to use them as mentor, advisor, or even better, another network contact. Professors in grad school classes will oftentimes have had real life experience in the subject that they teach and therefore, might be able to help you further your career by connecting you with the “right people”.
It can be hard to motivate yourself and constantly keep yourself focused. Discipline is a learned behavior that may help you advance your career. If you’re having a hard time teaching yourself to become disciplined, the rigor and dedication required to earn a grad school degree may help teach you to prioritize your time. This is especially true for older students in their 30’s, as it can be assumed that you have other obligations that you’ll have to find a way to fit into your schedule.
Grad school classes often teach students how to approach an idea from all sorts of angles. In many cases the professor is less interested in the “right” answer than they are in how you arrived at your answer. This gives you the chance to improve your presentation skills as you can sometimes find yourself engaged in an intellectual stand-off. These situations may help you learn how to clearly communicate your ideas, and help you develop the confidence to defend your idea’s in a work setting.
Teamwork is an important part of life, professionally and academically. Learning to work with others can be challenging as you might find yourself at times depending on others in order to get a job done. Grad school classes often involve projects that are nearly impossible for one person to complete on their own. The balancing of egos along with the responsibilities of leadership is often part of the challenge of earning a graduate degree.
The daily grind of repetitive work can definitely be monotonous. Applying your attention towards earning a grad school degree lets you step away from the tedium of your daily responsibilities if only for a few hours a day. Getting away from work and learning new material creates opportunities for you to focus on yourself and your future.
Your 30’s can be a hectic time. More, now than ever, grad schools are willing to work around the realities of life. There are night classes, online courses, classes that only take place once a week, etc. Having so many options to access the resources that are available now make it easier than at any other point in time so far to get ahead with a grad school degree.
Undergrad education experiences have often been characterized as places to socialize and, if there’s time, a place for learning. Grad school, specifically for someone with some life experience behind them, is a place better suited for those who are ready to learn. Developing a deep understanding in a specific field may help you become recognized as a leader in your industry.
It’s hard to keep up with technology, and unless you want your younger co-workers to judge you because you don’t know how to leverage the latest and greatest application in the work place you are going to need to find a way to stay relevant. Earning a graduate degree is one way to make sure you are up to date on the latest technological and theoretical advancements in your field.
Learning is fun, and being a part of campus culture can be even more fun. If you miss being a part of a community of students, enrolling in a graduate program may be a good way to re-connect with a happy time in your life while developing useful skills for your future endeavors.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate for people over the age of 25 who hold a graduate degree was 3.4% in 2013, this compares favorably to the unemployment rate of people who had only earned a bachelor’s degree (4.0%).(Source: http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm)
If you are in your 30’s and you are feeling stressed about your current standing in life, earning a graduate degree might help you enhance your career opportunities, or at least give you a short term goal to work towards.
If you spent the years between earning an undergraduate degree and now pursuing your dream of being a rock and roll star or actor with little success and you are ready to put those dreams on the back burner in favor of a more traditional career path then graduate school may be a great option to help you transition your perspective and gain skills that might help you pursue your new set of goals.
If you’ve always known that graduate school was in your future, but you spent the past few years putting it off in favor of other pursuits your 30’s might be a good time to stop procrastinating. There are some professions that require a graduate degree in order to be qualified for independent practice or career advancement. Take the plunge and start working towards being able to move your career forward.
About the Author: Laura Morrison is the Web Content Manager for GradSchools.com. She earned an MBA from the Rutgers School of Business in 2010.