Beyond graduation: Head straight to graduate school or wait?
Recent college graduates in some majors may be questioning when to begin working toward a graduate degree or if they should be getting one at all. Like many other things, this is a topic with varying opinions. I’ll be talking about what options look best for certain people and why I am going straight into a master’s program.
Jumping Right In
Many students make the decision to enroll in graduate school straight after completing their undergraduate degree. Here are three reasons why this could be a good idea (1). First, perhaps you’re younger and have more energy to put into your education. Second, it could help you define your goals if you are still unsure of them. And third, you can study with people closer to your age. Another reason for starting a graduate program sooner rather than later is that you’re already in “school mode,” so the transition will be much easier (2). Also, you know where you stand in your life right after graduation. If you take a two year or longer break, who knows where you will be? Finally, it’ll put off the stress of having to start paying back those pesky loans and then going to get more.
Waiting to Pursue
Other students decide to wait a few years to start a graduate program, and there are just as many advantages as going straight in. This could be beneficial for you for many reasons, including if you want to change career paths. It could also be good because you’ll know for sure what you want, have more work experience – which some programs ask for – and possibly be able to pay for it yourself without loans (1). Waiting also gives you the option of changing your mind in what field to master in and perhaps being able to have your employer help fund your degree (2).
Should I Even Get a Master’s Degree?
Many people wonder if getting a master’s degree is even worth it. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, each advanced degree you get means you have higher pay and more job security. However, it is not necessary for all job routes. Analyze the pros and cons of master’s programs and what they can do for your career to help you in deciding if graduate school is the right path for you.
Why I’m Not Waiting
I seriously debated whether I should head straight to graduate school after graduation. I would also like to go to law school one day, so I didn’t know if a graduate degree would be necessary. However, as I got further into my major – International Business and Economics – I realized how much more I’d like to learn about that field. I began researching double JD/MBA programs. I was wary of doing this though, as getting a law degree along with a master’s would be seriously taxing in all aspects. Also, I didn’t know what I would do in my time off, since school has always been my life. It was not until I found an 11-month master’s program that I even considered going straight into graduate school.
Here are the top three reasons this choice is best for me. First, I am already used to having a full schedule. Second, it would make it possible for me to still take a year break and graduate from law school before I’m 30. And third, it makes me a more diverse student, which could help me stand out in my law school applications. So going straight into graduate school is a choice I decided was better for me and my future.
The bottom line is this – you should make the choice based on what is best for YOU. Of course, take into account the opinions of those around you and the factors that affect your life, but ultimately it is your decision. In the end, whatever you do will be amazing.