Deciding on whether to invest the time and money necessary to pursue a graduate degree is an important decision that will directly impact both your personal and financial future. With so much money and time at stake, it is understandable that ambitious professionals struggle to make the best decision based on their unique circumstances. Due to the high price tag associated with higher education, it’s nice to know that there are scholarships for everyone in need of financial aid. Amidst the daunting decision of investing in a graduate degree, discovering a scholarship can alleviate financial burdens and pave the path toward academic advancement and professional growth.

Below are some factors to consider that’ll reassure you your decision to pursue a graduate degree is the right path. For more information about grad school admissions, scholarships, and application best practices, check out free resources like CollegeData.

When you’re making a career change

It’s not uncommon for new graduates to find out a year or two into their first job that they made an unsuitable career choice. Whether your career path of choice doesn’t align with your core values or the day-to-day tasks bore you, assess the situation before taking drastic action. It’s always a good idea to carefully evaluate your earning potential, research alternatives, and do some career soul-searching before moving forward and deciding whether to pursue a graduate degree.

Because we’re forced to make pivotal, career-altering decisions in our teen years, such as what college or our major of choice, it’s not surprising that many recent college graduates feel dissatisfied during their first post-grad position. Finalizing plans with limited knowledge often dooms us to a life of monotony and disinterest in our current job positions.

Harvard Business Review recommends that you make your next important career change armed with research that predicts which careers will be in high demand in the next five to ten years. Considering the speed of change in the workplace due to AI and other technological advancements, it’s more important than ever to plan to put the odds in your favour of obtaining steady and rewarding employment in the future.

When you need an advanced degree to qualify for a promotion

One of the most obvious reasons to go back to school for a graduate degree is to qualify for a promotion. Many employers are happy to hire new graduates with a bachelor’s degree in entry-level positions, only to put the kibosh on advancement opportunities due to a graduate-degree prerequisite. To take the next steps up the corporate ladder, continuing to graduate school may be your best option.

When your career trajectory stagnates and needs a jump-start

There is an adage that claims that the only constant in life is change. Practically speaking, this statement is both accurate and disconcerting for students who years of time and energy outlining a career plan, only to find out that forces beyond their control have rendered them unprepared or worse, obsolete in a career that’s headed nowhere, fast.

That’s why it’s crucial to remain resilient and focus on the things you can control. For example, suppose your education and training have led to a dead-end because of AI or some other surfacing cultural or technological development. In that case, it makes sense to continue your education and earn a graduate degree that will lead to a career with a promising future.

When joining a prestigious alumni network would substantially benefit your career

Depending on the corporate culture and the industry you’ve chosen, you might find yourself competing for advancement opportunities based on your alma mater. Whether we like it or not, bias can play a pivotal role in our career development and even the plateauing of our success.

In situations where you notice a lot of references paid to particular schools or a disproportionate amount of attention given to well-reputed, Ivy League institutions, then this may be your cue to join the graduate-degree club. By earning a degree from a prestigious university, you not only improve your odds of moving up the applicant pool but also introduce more influential people to your networking list. Once you’ve built a professional network, you can contact these professionals for job opportunities at their place of employment, which may connect you to higher salaries or positions with more room for advancement.

When your employer is willing to cover your tuition and sponsor your education

If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that’s willing to cover your tuition costs, it makes sense to capitalize on this fantastic opportunity. With tuition reimbursement, you won’t have to calculate the ROI or weigh the affordability factor—making earning a graduate degree in a relevant field a no-brainer.

Generally speaking, the more educated you are as an employee, the more you’ll be perceived as an asset to your employers. Count yourself as lucky and take the money to boost your career credentials.

The takeaway

It’s easy to underestimate the impact of a good education on the success of your current place of employment. In a world that seems to transform almost overnight and requires a new portfolio of skills and degrees to navigate, many professionals and higher-ups recognize the value of obtaining a graduate degree.

Due to the rising tuition costs, some aspiring students can’t justify the astronomical expenses associated with pursuing higher education. However, in the situations referenced above, a graduate degree may not be optional. Luckily, with tuition reimbursement and financial aid, a graduate degree may not be as financially burdensome as most would expect. Regardless of your financial situation, factor in the potential salary increases into your decision before ruling out a graduate degree.

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Jana is a seasoned writer who’s been helping businesses tell their story for more than 15 years. When she’s not reading and writing, she enjoys hiking around the Seattle area, or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest when she can get away for a weekend road trip.