So, you’ve completed your bachelor’s degree and are thinking about attempting a master’s. This is a decision that is all too important, because the masters degree program you choose determines your future. It can be something that spurs change and progression in your life or can be a complete waste of time. You don’t want to look back on your life thinking you lost two years trying to grasp something that resulted in no outcome. For this reason, I would advise you consider a few factors before you make the leap to join a program. Here they are:

1. Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Think about your strengths and weaknesses as a person; not everyone is cut out for every program. For example, some people attend schools that specialize in certain degrees. While they have some small fantasy about becoming an engineer or doctor, they may never be able to complete these kinds of programs with satisfaction.

Sure, it sounds great to them. They could make a lot of money as an engineer, but they should ask themselves – would we truly be happy? Is this what we would want to with the rest of our lives? These are the same questions you need to ask yourself before you decide on a master’s program. Don’t pick one that will be too stressful for you; maybe it’s just not worth it.

2. Finances

The sad reality about attending college is that it’s expensive. Most of the former college students I know are totally in debt (in the tens of thousands of dollars range). Think about your financial situation and shop around. Your dream program may not necessarily be the one which you can afford at the moment, and in my opinion, putting yourself in too much debt is not the smartest decision. Why choose to put yourself in extreme debt and work as a slave for ten years when you could choose a program that is affordable and may be equally beneficial?

3. Location

The location you go to college will most likely affect your quality of life. Going to a university that is very close to home will feel like home; whereas, going to a university far away from what you’re used to can feel foreign. If you’re someone who doesn’t like change, moving far away from what you’re used to might not be good for you. You might feel isolated and lonely. On the other hand, if you’re someone who likes adventure and experiencing new places, a college in a new location might be right up your alley. It could be your home away from home. In any case, think about what makes you happy and choose accordingly.

4. Program

The most important thing to consider is whether the program you choose is what you actually want and need in your life. Your bachelor’s degree is very generic, and your master’s degree is very specific. You have to choose to study from a range of specializations related to your bachelor’s degree, and each specialization has its pros and cons. For example, a degree in industrial and organizational psychology will allow you to work in the business world; whereas, a degree in clinical psychology is more suited for someone wanting to work in a hospital. It’s a good idea to research the kind of jobs you can get with the degrees you’re interested in, as this can have a huge impact on your ability to actually find a job after your education. Not all programs are created equal.

These are some of the most important things to consider when deciding what master’s program you want to study in. Remember that not every program is a “one size fits all”. Your strengths and weaknesses will give you a good idea of how happy and successful you will be when attending the program. If you don’t have the proper finances to pay for school, you may end up in debt. Millions of American college students are already in debt, and take from my first-hand experience – it’s not fun. The location of your program can either be a huge convenience or a massive struggle depending on whether you want to stay safe or be adventurous. And finally, the program itself should be chosen carefully. There are some programs people say are useless and those that can help open the door for great job opportunities. Think this through carefully.

Make sure you think long and hard about the master’s degree program you want to enter into. Some prospective students jump right into a program without doing the necessary research to make sure it is right for them, and it’s a big mistake. Your master’s degree program determines a large portion of your life, and often, once you’ve completed a program, there is no turning back. Think long and hard, and the road ahead will be easy

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