Stay in school.

With rising global competition, the value of an undergraduate degree is dropping precipitously. Students looking for an edge in the employment market need even more higher education to bolster their résumés.

Graduate school options include further education in law, medicine and business as well as masters and doctoral degrees in specific disciplines.

Just as students take the SAT and ACT for undergraduate admissions, many prospective graduate students take the Graduate Records Examination (GRE). There are also specific entrance examinations required for other professional programs, including the LSAT for law school and the MCAT for medical school.

But before deciding to attend graduate school, one should consider the cost.

According to the U.S. News and World Report, annual tuition and books alone at lower tier universities are reaching a cost of $9,000 per year, while private school tuition can run north of $30,000. When personal expenses and living expenses are added to that bill, going to grad school on the cheap can be a nearly impossible task.

Financial relief is also rare, with less than 4 percent of graduate students receiving grants and fewer than 20 percent receiving any scholarship at all, which means that 60 percent of students do not receive a dollar of aid, according to the U.S. News and World Report.

Graduate school, while stressful, has a long-term payoff.

A graduate degree significantly increases one’s chances in a competitive job market, boosts potential financial earnings, and provides greater potential to advance one’s career. In addition, compared to the undergraduate experience, graduate school offers students more opportunities for research.

Completing a graduate degree can take from two to seven years and can create large amounts of debt. Admissions are very competitive and the workload is not light, since many students are required to teach in addition to taking classes and performing research. But it may just all be worth it.

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