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Unemployed due to COVID-19? Is it the right time for graduate school?

One interesting thing that happens during a recession (and after a recession) is the changes that occur in college enrollment, especially in graduate school.

When things are going well in the economy, colleges and universities see a dip in enrollment.


Because for people, college isn’t on their radar especially going to receive a masters or doctorate education. If their job is stable, what does spending more time and money in school achieve?

On the other hand, when recessions are in full mode, such as we are seeing due to COVID-19, the enrollment in post-graduate education increases. With many places now shifting solely to on-line schools, it might be the best time to pursue more education.

But is it the right thing to do?

Yes and No. I remember a professor told me one time that a degree meant that as you get older, you are paid to use your brain versus your body. While younger it seems we are invisible and our bodies will go on and on. Yet, as you get older you see many individuals wanting to use their brain more and less of their brawn.

Unfortunately, many times, these employees are stifled by their ability to move because they don’t have their graduate degrees. Individuals with masters degrees are finding that academia is pulling them in more and have a desire to make a career change. Yet, again, without a PhD, they will find limited opportunities to get a prime tenure-track position.

Yet, when is it the wrong thing to do?

Do not pursue a degree if you don’t have the passion for the subject and don’t have a desire to complete a degree. Too often, I mentor individuals who want to pursue a graduate education but can’t articulate the reason why. Be sure of why you want to go and what you want to study.

Make sure you consider the financial implications and the amount of time it will take away from your personal life, this is especially true of those pursuing doctorate degrees. While, you might be studying from home, you may find it hard to get your friends and family to understand you need dedicated time, just as a job, to do your work.

To help prepare, here are a few things to consider if considering a graduate degree program

  1. Do you have the financial means to pursue a degree?
  2. Will you be a full-time or part-time student?
  3. What are the competing needs you have that can interfere with your studies?
  4. What do you want to study and where?
  5. If there was a cure for COVID-19 tomorrow and your job was reinstated, or you could go back to work, would you stay in school?
  6. Have you looked a variety of programs?
  7. Have you scheduled a free 30-minute consultation with an expert who can help you think through these and other important questions?
  8. Have you checked out some free resources on graduate school preparation?

Overall, pursuing a degree is an excellent way to change up your life and your career. Your degree can open new doors for you, if you are ready to turn the doorknob.