The economic impact of COVID-19 has many soon-to-be graduates considering alternate paths. In fact, 58% of college students nationally are focusing on applying to grad school rather than pursuing a job or internship. Don’t let this discourage you. There are a number of benefits of grad school during a recession. 

Hone Your Craft

While grad school isn’t an “escape hatch,” it can offer a safe alternative to entering a job search for students whose industries now have limited employment opportunities. It provides a space for you to explore your field and hone your passion so that once the market has rebounded you’ll leave with a targeted focus for your job search. 

Earn Income

Right now, taking out student loans to pay for grad school is untenable. When the economy is suffering, interest rates rise, which means that over the lifespan of your loan you would be paying a much greater sum. Instead, seek out graduate assistantships. Not only do they give you hands-on work experience, but they also cover tuition and provide a stipend. These stipends can range from $6,000 to nearly $40,000 per year, making grad school a lucrative experience for you.

Gain Relevant Work Experience

Graduate assistantships, project-based learning, and coursework offer you work experience like any other job. The benefit here is that as you build experience, you are also completing a terminal degree and developing in-demand skills. In fact, you might find yourself uniquely qualified for positions that previously would have been out of reach.

Build New Connections

Grad school is often touted as a way to increase your earning potential, but it also gives you access to high-touch networking. As you form relationships with your faculty, thesis advisor, your peers, and alums, you are creating a robust network of experts in your field who can connect you to industry professionals who are hiring. These connections may open doors for you to obtain a higher-paying job — or to negotiate for one.

Grad school is not the answer for every student, but for many it will open up new pathways–pathways that offer hope during economic instability. If you’re interested in grad school, there’s still time to apply. Many programs have extended their admissions deadlines — grad programs included. 

If you’re considering grad school or want career advice, schedule an appointment with a Career Community Advisor through Handshake.