Five things parents need to know before committing to graduate school

Going back to school as a parent is admirable. Unfortunately, going to graduate school as a parent can be a much bigger commitment than you are expecting!

There are a lot of hidden costs associated with grad school, and all the extra work can cause you and your family a lot of added stress. In the end though, it is all worth it once you have your degree and can put it to good use.

Read on and discover five things you need to know before officially committing to graduate school.

You will need to be apart from your family

One big drawback to returning to graduate school as a parent is the time you will need to spend away from your family. Some people may appreciate the time apart, but for many this is a challenging, often forgotten, part of attending graduate school as a parent. 

If you are having a hard time being apart from your family while you are completing your graduate school courses, try to reserve a certain day of the week for family time.

Even if you can only find a couple of hours throughout the week, make them special and enjoy them! Family time will matter more than ever once you are apart, so make the time you have together count.

It could cause your partner additional stress

When you are busy with your schoolwork, it could be easy to forget that going to graduate school as a parent can cause a lot of additional stress for your partner.

They may feel that they need to pick up the slack on responsibilities that you might just not have time for now. Whether it be making lunches for the kids or taking care of dishes, these additional chores can cause your partner a lot of stress. 

If you are worried about your partner while you are doing your schoolwork, check in on them to see how they are doing! Acknowledge that they are taking care of some extra work and be appreciative — they are your biggest supporter while you are in school, so make sure you are returning the favor. 

You will likely need to take the GMAT

Most graduate school applications require applicants to take the GMAT exam (or an equivalent). If you want to do well on this exam, especially if you have been out of school for a while, you will probably want to take a GMAT prep course in order to improve your score. You can find tons of GMAT prep courses online, and you may even be able to find some locally!

Earning a high score on the GMAT is essential for getting into a good business school program. If you do well by taking a prep course, you will be able to earn scholarship or grant money to help cover some of the costs of going to graduate school — spending money now on a class can help you save thousands more in the future.

Also, note that the GMAT is only recommended for people going to business school. The GMAT does not take the place of the GRE. Similarly, though, a GRE prep course would be beneficial for your score and for your bank account if you do not need to take the GMAT.

It costs much more than you would expect

Graduate school can wind up costing way more than just your tuition. By the time you have factored in additional expenses like textbooks, gas, and tutoring, you are looking at a significantly higher bill than you might have expected.

Not to mention, the process of applying to graduate school can also be pretty expensive. The GMAT, and any GMAT prep courses that you decide to take, can cost hundreds in addition to the cost of going to graduate school in the first place. Once you start graduate school, you will need to spend wisely to avoid running out of money for things like school supplies and gas.

It will not be like your undergraduate school

The type of education you receive from a graduate school is quite different from the structures approach to education taken by undergraduate schools. Unlike in your undergrad, you are not given a set of classes you need to take in order to earn your degree. Instead, graduate school requires you to perform research to develop a deep understanding of your subject. 

Since graduate school is far less structured and requires you to carry out your own research, you will probably be spending way more time in front of the computer or buried in a book than you expected. Graduate school takes a lot of work — remember this when you are considering putting in applications so that you do not end up way over your head with the kind of work you will be doing.

Ready to go to graduate school?

The decision to go to graduate school as a parent should not be rushed. As a parent, your decision to continue your schooling impacts a lot more than you might think.

Your children, your partner and your work life could all suffer as a result of going to grad school, but don’t let that get in the way of you earning your degree and finding your dream job! In the end, all those sacrifices and hard work will be worth it.