215: Is Grad School For You: Questions to Consider Before Applying

215: Is Grad School For You: Questions to Consider Before Applying


Is grad school for you? This week I’m sharing some key questions you should ask yourself when considering applying to graduate school. These questions cover your motivations, career goals, and level of self-awareness. After answering these questions, you’ll be closer to making an informed decision regarding whether or not it makes sense for you to pursue grad school.

I’m also excited to announce my new book “Is Grad School For Me?” is available for pre-order. Only those who preorder the book get instant access to a supplementary workbook with resources that include a quiz with similar questions. I co-authored this book with Dr. Miroslava Chavez-Garcia to provide the guidance I wished I had as an undergraduate. Please pre-order the book and let your friends and professors know it will be available in April 2024. Save 30% off if you purchase it from UC Press with the code: UCPSAVE30

To learn more about the book, go to isgradschoolforme.com.

Sign up⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠ for my group coaching program to start working on your personal growth and gain sustainable productivity skills.

⁠⁠⁠⁠Book me⁠⁠⁠⁠ to speak at your upcoming professional development event.

Follow me on your favorite social media platforms: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Instagram⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠LinkedIn⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠YouTube⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Facebook⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠TikTok⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠, and ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Twitter⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠

Sign up for my ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠free email newsletter ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠to learn more about grad school, sustainable productivity, and personal development

Get my free 15-page ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Grad School Femtoring Resource Kit⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠, which includes essential information to prepare for and navigate grad school

To download episode transcripts and access more resources, go to my website: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠https://gradschoolfemtoring.com/podcast/⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠

Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/gradschoolfemtoring/message

Is Grad School For You? Questions to Consider Before Applying


Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:00:00] Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. Today I'm asking, is grad school for me? I will be sharing some questions for you to consider before making the decision to apply to grad school. I am recording this podcast episode because my book, a book that I've coauthored with Dr.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Miroslava Chavez Garcia, is officially available to pre order. The book goes by a similar title. Is grad school for me demystifying the application process for first gen BIPOC students? It comes out in April 2024, but yes, like I said, it is available to pre order today. And I'm going to be sharing a few questions that are actually part.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: of a quiz that's part of a workbook that we're giving to anybody who orders the book early. So only the [00:01:00] folks who pre order the book will get instant access to a workbook that is supposed to help you. It's supposed to accompany the book and help you as you make the decision and navigate the application process if you choose to apply.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So here we go. Let's talk about making the decision to even apply. Are you ready? Is it the right thing for you? Does it make sense based on your circumstances and your career goals? There are different categories of questions you may want to ask yourself. There are questions related to motivation, There are questions related to your career goals and also questions related to self awareness.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I am big on personal growth, personal development, gaining that skill of self awareness, and that is also important to make sure that You, if you do decide to go the grad school path, you're [00:02:00] able to do so successfully. So the first thing that I want you to ask yourself, if you're still debating whether or not it makes sense for you to go to grad school is ask yourself, am I motivated intrinsically by the educational experience, not just by the outcome of a degree?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yes, in some cases, a graduate school degree is necessary for you to advance in your career. But there are also many cases where folks decide to go to graduate school because of that intrinsic reason of enjoying the learning experience, and that will get you far. If you decide to, you know, go on the higher path or yeah, if you decide to continue with your schooling, another question related to your motivation is asking yourself.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Would I be really disappointed if I didn't pursue this degree at this stage in my life? [00:03:00] If you feel like you might regret it or you would have a lot of what ifs, if you didn't pursue this route, then maybe it would make sense for you to pursue grad school. Another question related to motivation is Do I have a strong sense of purpose for pursuing higher education?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You know, like I said, lots of people pursue grad school. Not everybody knows exactly why they're doing it. Some people are doing it because they just don't know what else is. Next for them or because they're bored or because they're afraid of going on the job market, but you really do need a strong sense of internal motivation to apply, get in and finish.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So those are a couple of questions. Now, when it comes to your career, and this is very, very important because I say this a lot. I don't recommend for folks to go to graduate school, especially if it involves taking on [00:04:00] debt and they don't. absolutely feel like they have to do it. And for a lot of you, you have to, because it's a requirement for your career of interest.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So you want to ask yourself these career related questions. Do I have a clear trajectory, which requires an advanced degree? That's the first question. Next, you want to ask yourself, does my career path offer opportunities for advancement? Without a graduate degree, because if it doesn't offer opportunities for advancement without a grad degree, then that means you might want to pursue the grad school path.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You also want to ask yourself, will earning this degree make me more competitive for jobs in my career interests? Getting an advanced degree will not always make you more competitive. Sometimes you actually need to go out. Get a job and get some experience [00:05:00] out in the field before you figure out, wow, I keep running into this hurdle.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: People keep telling me I need X degree and X degree and X degree to move up. And if that's the case, then that might be your. Your hint, that might be the indicator that you do need to go back to school and pursue that advanced degree. Another question, the last career related question you want to ask yourself is, do I expect this degree to substantially increase my earning potential?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: This is something that I struggle with a lot because I know that for a lot of people of color, especially women of color, as they move up in and get more and more degrees, their salary doesn't necessarily reflect that. Their salary doesn't necessarily go up along with those degrees. Why? I mean, there are a lot of reasons why, but, you know, a [00:06:00] lot of times you have an opportunity cost when you are in graduate school, you know, going in and getting a graduate degree with very low pay while your peers are advancing in their careers and getting these salary bumps.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And so

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Get your first, you know, job out of grad school. You are starting your, you may be starting at a lower salary band than your fellow peers who might have a few years, you know, of a, of a headstart, you know, be before you were able to pursue a full time job. Anyway, I'm going in a little bit of a rant, but make sure.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: that you find out whether or not you can actually reasonably expect your salary to increase with this advanced degree. You're going to need to talk to a few people, you're going to need to network, and that's how you're going to get this information. [00:07:00] The other set of questions I want you to ask yourself have to do with self awareness.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Ask yourself, am I self motivated and resilient enough to work through challenges? Because you're going to go through a lot of challenges in grad school. It is not easy for most of us. I know some people say grad school was easy for them, but It is not easy for most of us. You will have some sort of hurdle and, you know, going to graduate school, completing an advanced degree, getting a PhD doesn't necessarily mean you're any smarter than the person next to you, but it definitely means that you are resilient and that you're able to follow through on something.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So resilient, self motivated enough to finish that degree from beginning to end. Another question you want to ask yourself is, do I have a support system and am I comfortable in seeking out help from [00:08:00] others? If you don't have a support system, you're going to need to build it. I hear from a lot of folks who Actually, it's usually folks who book consultations with me because I offer a free one time half hour consultation, no questions asked, no pressure, and folks can ask me any questions that they want, but a lot of times I hear from folks, especially Absolutely.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Thank you. Nontraditional folks. So folks who often are parents maybe they are you know, that like they've taken some a good amount of time off and they're coming back to school and they're wondering, am I going to be able to do it? Like, am I going to cut it? And am I going to have enough support to be able to be away from my children or from my responsibilities at home or from, you know Taking time away from work, reducing hours or whatever it is that they need to do to make time for this graduate degree.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I [00:09:00] am not someone who can tell them, you know, I can't give them these answers because they know their circumstances best, but I can give them follow up questions to see if they would be able to make it work for themselves. And so with that, it's really figuring out, okay. If you don't have a support system, then what might it look like?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You know, how would you set it up? Who can you count on? And would you be willing to make x type of sacrifices? And again, it's always related to like, do you absolutely need to get this degree? Do you feel like you would absolutely regret it if you didn't pursue this degree at this very time? And that usually helps them with figuring out what the next step is.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And for those that do decide to go to graduate school, some of them also. Continue on and work with me. I help them with their application process, and it feels really, really good to know that they have a pretty good understanding of the type of support that they need, and [00:10:00] that they already are showing the characteristic of being able to ask for help because they reached out to me for help.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: That means they're going to be more than likely to reach out to their advisors for help, their peers for help other staff supports at their institutions for help, and so on. Okay, another question to ask yourself related to self awareness is do I let self doubt get in my way of reaching my goals?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: This is a big question to ask because In many cases, you, I don't even know how to how to put this nicely, but you will be broken down in grad school, you will receive a lot of criticism, you will, you will fail, you know, you might fail in setting up certain. Experiments, you may fail in terms of, you know, writing an excellent first draft of a [00:11:00] paper.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You are going to mess up. You are going to make mistakes. If you knew everything that you absolutely needed to know, you wouldn't be in graduate school. It wouldn't be necessary for you. And because of that, you want to make sure that you have a strong sense of conviction and that. You know, historically, if you look back to your past, you haven't let self doubt get in your way.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Now, I am someone that I have struggled a lot with the imposter phenomenon, with self doubt, with anxiety, and I have let that get in the way of pursuing some goals, but I definitely didn't let that get in the way of pursuing my PhD. And I try my best to not let it get in the way of me reaching the goals that I have now, the personal professional goals that I have now.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And trust me, they are lofty, but [00:12:00] But self doubt isn't really going to help me, it's just going to have me be the one saying no to myself, and if you know me you know that I tell people all the time that no means next, and sometimes no means not yet, and if you really feel strongly You know, in terms of your sense of conviction and purpose that graduate school is absolutely necessary as a next step, you are going to need to make sure that you're also not going to let self doubt get in the way you know, get in the way of finishing this program and of continuing on pursuing bigger and better goals after grad school.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: These are a couple of the questions that you'll find in our workbook for is grad school for me the book the workbook again is only available to folks that pre order the book if you want to be one of the ones who pre orders it early you can find it at is grad school for me dot Com. I'm super [00:13:00] excited.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It's, you know, about a six month countdown, right? Let's see. November, December, January, February, March, April. No, we've got five more months until the book is released. So that means you've got five more months to order it, to tell all your friends about it, to tell your professors about it, and to hopefully even invite us to your campus or invite us for some sort of zoom book talk.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: We are so excited to share this resource with everybody. It's the book that I wish I would have had when I was an undergrad. I've told a lot of my closest friends that I've had this book in my head since I was an undergrad, since I was part of the first cohort of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship at UCLA.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: We were the first cohort, first cohort. We were guinea pigs. And, I felt like even though we received support, there was so much more that was left unsaid. There was so much more that I wish I would have known. I was constantly kind of desperate for information and frustrated that I was [00:14:00] constantly running into things that I didn't know into additional hurdles.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And as I continued on in graduate school and started mentoring, I realized, you know what? It wasn't just me. There were so many people like me struggling to figure out the system, to figure out the culture of academia. To figure out what, you know, what to do and what not to do, that I just said to myself when I started my business enough is enough.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I need to write this book. And thankfully my colleague and friend and femtor. Dr. Miroslava Chavez Garcia was willing to co author this with me. The book wouldn't be what it is without her support. I have learned so much from her as you know, since she is a senior scholar, she has taught me a lot along the way.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I'm really, really grateful to her. It just really is, um, a labor of love on both of our ends. And we hope that you sense it when you read it. We hope that you gain a lot from it and that this [00:15:00] will help you along your path help you with your career and life. That's it for today. Thanks so much for listening.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I hope these questions are also useful and pre order the book as soon as you can. Okay. All right, y'all. I'll talk to you later.

Did you ♥ this episode? Let me know.

Grad School Femtoring
Email List