Dave Mowers is a career coach and educator. Dave Mowers, center, is a career coach and educator.

As a coach and trainer for creative professionals, Dave Mowers says when starting out in graduate study, “You’ll be surrounded by opportunity, new and fascinating people, lofty ideas, incredible demands and intense feedback and attention.” Can you make it pay off? Mowers lays out what to know before committing the time and money.

Why should we think about grad school right now?
There are signs of economic recovery. We have many industries, and advanced training and education are key to the innovation movements across the board.

Are there common mistakes people make when deciding to apply or choosing a school?
The No. 1 mistake is the assumption that any specific program will change your life and solve financial problems. People’s second mistake is taking an initial rejection as a stopper. But the biggest mistake is taking on the cost without a realistic plan for managing finances after the program is complete.

 

Is enrolling in continuing studies classes a good alternative to immersing yourself in grad school full time?
Continuing studies programs offer an amazing route to achieving your career goals. Programs like this are staffed by professionals working in the field. Most of them participate because they are interested in cutting-edge development, staying current with thought leadership in their industry and sharing a passion for their discipline or work.
What to remember when taking the next steps: Research is free. Spend time online with schools that interest you, but also visit open houses. Learning about a school is the first step to learning from the school.

Applying is not committing. Applications aren’t cheap, but they’re a small investment compared to the cost of attending a school. Find out what you need to succeed and take it from there. You don’t have to accept.

Keep an open mind. Sure, there is always a program ranked No. 1, but there are also other schools that may offer you better options for placement upon graduation.

Ask for it. Graduate schools are competing for your business. Make sure you are meeting face-to-face with a committed team of people who will help you get the experience you want.

What happens after? Business is still business when you finish, and it comes down to who you know. Graduate school should provide you with a network that will move you toward your professional goal.

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