Much has been said about the benefits of going to grad school — greater salaries, greater chances of promotions, greater learning — everyone knows that.

There are, however, some obvious perks of having a master’s or doctoral degree that people tend to overlook. Here are the top four:

1. Connect with future colleagues
Many people think that graduate school is a highly competitive place where everyone is hyper focused on trying to outdo each other. While that environment may be present within some programs, look for a graduate program that is small enough to allow you opportunities for hands-on work and collaboration with peers. Grad school is a great place to build connections within your field. Your classmate may turn out to be your future business partner, while your professor (who has a wealth of professional contacts) may become part of your network. (Look for grad programs that offer a graduate student association and get involved.)

2. Find professional mentors
Professional contacts are important. Many faculty serve as mentors who guide you through your degree program and beyond. These connections can develop into lifelong and career advancing relationships. (Learn more about UNC’s teacher-scholar model and the impact mentoring professors can have on your education and your career.)

3. Learn a new language
Graduate school allows student to learn a new language, either through coursework or through overseas internships and exchange programs.

Learning a new language sharpens the brain and slows down aging. (How’s this for life-changing? A study showed bilingual patients were diagnosed with dementia about 4.5 years later than monolinguals with dementia.)

4. Build a social network
Studies say men and women tend to gravitate towards potential partners who share the same educational background as them. As a graduate student, you’ll meet others who share your interests. Study groups, fieldwork, research and travel will broaden your horizons and help you connect not only professionally, but socially as well.

An advanced degree can bring in a slew of amazing perks like the four things mentioned above. It is a place teeming with knowledge, learning and networking opportunities for those who are open to the experience.

Are there other grad school perks that we missed? Share them in the comments below.

If you’re thinking of enrolling in a graduate degree but don’t know where to start, browse the University of Northern Colorado’s graduate academic programs.