Should-Free Living by Heather Strang – Graduate School

Heather Strang, and co-author Brooke Emery, wrote the upcoming book Stop Shoulding On Yourself! A Woman’s Guide From Obligation to Inspiration. The book encourages women to live from an authentic and should-free space.

So, grab a cup of tea and read on…who knows, you just might find some great ideas for your own life…

Hey Heather,

I’m on a limited income, but want to save for Graduate School and for GMAT classes, but don’t really have disposable income remaining once bills/rent, etc. are paid for. Any advice? E.K.

Dear E.K.,

Congratulations on your desire to continue your education through graduate school! Enriching your life through an education can be one of the many rewarding ways we spend our money.

But first, start by exploring why you want to attend graduate school. Is there a specific career that you’ve always dreamed of doing that requires it? Has it simply been a lifelong dream to receive your Master’s degree? Or do you feel pressure from family, friends or coworkers to get a higher degree? Whatever it may be, the goal is to unearth any should’s that could be lingering in this desire to attend grad school.

-Write out all the reasons why you WANT to go to grad school.

-Then, write all the reasons why you DON’T want to go.

-Take a good look at it. Are those your reasons or someone else’s?

-Go over your list with a close and trusted friend or family member (one who is living a fairly should-free life, of course). Ask for any other items that might be missing from your list. But, wait–before you add them; make sure they completely resonate with you.

-Write about your dream job–what does it look like? Where is it located? Does it absolutely require a master’s degree?

If you feel 100% certain that your desire to go to grad school is solely yours and that your dream job requires it, then you’re ready to dive into applying and paying for it.

Another “should” that seems to be operating under the scenes for you, E.K., is the belief that graduate school should cost more money than you can afford. What if you imagined that graduate school was absolutely in your budget?

It can be easy to get caught up in the “should” that attaining seemingly expensive items is out of reach, or at least very difficult. With the current economic climate, it’s become “all the rage” to treat money as a limited source, rather than realizing that our very beliefs about the state of the economy affect it. If you truly believe there is not enough money for graduate school, then there won’t be.

I suggest exploring some ideas that will allow you to transcend this belief. 

-Explore scholarship and graduate assistantship opportunities. Find ones that fit your qualifications. Apply!

-Talk to graduate professors at the university of your choice. Get the inside scoop on opportunities to work at the university or on ways that other students have paid for their education.

-Check out books from the library about how to attend college at a discounted rate. Try Cash for Grad School by Philip Mckee or Paying for Graduate School Without Going Broke by Princeton Review.

-Start stashing cash for your dream. You can begin by filling a jar with change or cut back on your cell phone plan and start saving that money. Put it in an account with ING Direct or another online institution that pays higher interest rates than traditional banks.

-Visualize yourself attending the graduate school of your choice. See and feel yourself there. What classes will you take? What kinds of friends will you make? What will you wear? Place yourself there. Get a logo from the school of your choice and put it up somewhere you can see everyday.

Believe that you can have this, E.K, if you really want it. Don’t allow negative or false beliefs about money to keep you from your dream. You are worth far more than that!

Much love & blessings,

Have a question about this topic or any other? Next month we’ll focus on the should’s surrounding your MONEY. Send your questions to: