Am I Too Young For Grad School?

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Shorter Version


Est. Reading Time: 1 Minute

Whether you recently completed your undergraduate degree and don’t want to jump off the education train, or your field requires a Masters and/or Doctorate in order to advance to the level you desire, there are plenty of situations where someone like you is considering graduate school at a young age. While there are many factors that should influence your decision on pursuing grad school, age alone should not deter you.

Education is learning, and learning is an investment in yourself. Do NOT second guess investing in yourself due to your age.

Still concerned you’re too young for grad school?

If you are concerned about pursuing grad school at a younger age, here are some recommendations to alleviate some of that stress:

  1. Do not create fictitious boundaries for yourself!
  2. Do some self-reflection and identify your why.
  3. Take as much time to think everything over – make a pro/con list for all angles.
  4. Gather information. Do your research and schedule a meeting with admissions professionals from grad schools you are considering.

Aim high!

Don’t let doubt or self-consciousness about your age stop you from aiming high. After all, you can’t make the Forbes 30 Under 30 list by letting your age influence your ambition. Regardless of how old you are, you are NOT too young to go after what you want and make your dreams a reality.

Skip to Actionable Steps




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Longer Version


Est. Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Whether you skipped a grade or two as a child, graduated early from college, or plan to participate in a Masters or Doctoral program immediately after your Bachelors, the decision to pursue graduate school as a young adult in your 20’s is a big one. There are many factors to consider, and it is normal to feel overwhelmed!

This article will address your concern about feeling too young to pursue grad school and alleviate some of those nerves. 

So you’re considering Graduate School…

Let’s get down to business. While there are many factors that should influence your decision on pursuing grad school, age alone should not deter you. You are sitting in the driver’s seat of your life and have the freedom to make what you want of it. Though it might be intimidating to be younger than your peers as you embark on this journey, there is no such thing as being too young.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average age of graduate students is 32.4 years old.

If you are still in your early to mid 20s, 32 years old might seem far away. But keep in mind, this number is just the average! Therefore, there are plenty of students in their 20s pursuing graduate degrees and you are not alone.

I’m still not sure…

There might be multiple reasons why you might feel “too young” to begin this endeavor. For example:

  • Feeling inexperienced without a comparable amount of work experience to your peers.
  • Doubting yourself and your preparedness due to societal norms (older = wiser).
  • Feeling out of place by looking and/or sounding younger than your peers.
  • Doubting your life path if you are considering grad school in a field or area different than your Bachelor’s degree.
  • Wondering how on earth you’re going to pay for another degree when you are still paying off loans from your last one.

If any of the above sound familiar, you are not alone! No one likes to feel out of place or like they don’t belong, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to face your fears is daunting. It is perfectly okay to feel anxious or nervous, but do not let that hold you back.

Remember…

Education is learning, and learning is an investment in yourself. Do NOT second guess investing in yourself due to your age.

What is your why?

If you are on the fence about if grad school is right for you right now, the first thing I recommend you do is some reflection and self assessment. Are you using “too young” and “not ready” interchangeably? Because they are very different things!

Ask yourself…What is your why? Though this question might seem vague, I want you to really dig deep as you answer it. Take a step back and think about a few things:

  • What are your short-term and long-term goals?
  • How does grad school align with or not align with these goals?
  • Why are you letting your age play a factor in this decision?

Think about your purpose and exactly what it is that you are striving to accomplish in life. This way, you can act with intention and make the best choice for you.

If it’s not the right time…

That’s perfectly okay! Everyone is different. Just because one person is ready or it’s the right time, doesn’t mean it’s right for someone else. A graduate degree has numerous benefits, but is also a huge investment financially, mentally, and emotionally. If you are interested in taking this step someday but are having doubts about it being the “right time” – I assure you, this is normal.

Being a grad student requires a large transition and different lifestyle. Therefore, you should not rush this decision. Take as much time as you need to weigh your options and make the best choice for you.

Be prepared and as informed as possible. Know how you are going to fund this endeavor, make pro/con lists, and gather information. Send an email or schedule a meeting with admissions professionals at grad schools you are interested in so you can learn more. Even if you’re not ready to start a grad program in the foreseeable future, it never hurts to ask questions!

Suit up and go get ‘em

Young minds are incredible minds. Being younger than your peers should not stop you from suiting up and playing with the big guys. Though you might not have a million dollar idea checked off your to-do list yet, don’t let doubt or self-consciousness about your age stop you from aiming high.

Actionable Steps


1

Do not let your age deter you

There are many factors that should influence your decision on pursuing grad school, but age alone should not be one of them. Remember, education is an investment in yourself.

2

Know your “why”

If you using “too young” and “not ready” interchangeably, do some self-reflection and identify your why. You don’t need to have every detail of your life planned out, but knowing your purpose will keep you grounded and helps you to make those big decisions.

3

Take some time

If you are on the fence about whether or not to move forward with attending grad school, take your time to think things over and write out everything that comes to mind. Take as much time as you need to weigh your options and make the best choice for you.

4

Be prepared and informed

Know how you are going to fund this endeavor, make pro/con lists, and gather information. Whether you have decided to pursue a graduate degree or not, learn as much as you can so you are prepared to make the best decision possible.

Still need help? Ask the coaches!

About the Author


Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Alyssa holds an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. For the last 7 years, she has coached hundreds of college students on how to be successful academically and in prepping for a job.
Full Bio | LinkedIn


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