For many college graduates, fresh from the gates of undergrad, graduate school is the next logical step. Some of you are chasing after higher paying careers, some of you don’t feel like you know enough about your career field, some of you are still clueless about what you want, and some of you are simply killing time before you must return to your mother’s couch. Whatever your reason, you’re probably still doubting whether or not you really even need to go.
I mean, undergrad was hard enough right? The late nights, the studying, the exams, all while trying to manage your own relationships/social life. Do you seriously want to go down that road again? Well first let’s look at some of the pros of going for that extra degree (mixed with my own personal experience while attending graduate school)
Refined focus on your career passion
While undergrad was a great experience in learning about my passions, it is not nearly as intensive as a graduate program. There is no more sugar coating, you are now diving head first into that dream career of yours. For me, this was extremely beneficial because it’s the exact reason I went to graduate school. I graduated undergrad somewhat iffy on my passion, but graduated grad school ten times more confident in my field of choice.
Travel, travel, and more travel
I opted to attend grad school in Spain, which was at first an extremely terrifying option. I hadn’t even traveled abroad for leisure before that, but all of a sudden I had committed myself to living in a foreign country for a year. Surprisingly…. it was the best decision I ever made in my life. I was able to learn so much more about the world and ultimately myself.
You thought you were grown? Think again
It’s one thing to experience adulthood while living in a dorm room, eating in the caf, and having your parents send care packages every other month. It’s another experience when you have to find an apartment, pay rent, own a car, find a job, and possibly pay your own tuition. Sounds like a con, but honestly this allowed me to finally grow up. I also grew as a woman in ways I never imagined. I became more confident, more courageous, and more vocal about what I wanted.
Wider career options
A large reason we all try to obtain another degree is for the job opportunities. We all want a higher salary, and another degree may give you that chance. It also opens the door to teaching opportunities, which again could be an automatic job position in some cases.
Once you’re in a graduate program, you are exposed to WAY more professionals in your field. Whether they visit campus for workshops, or you are connected to them by word of mouth, your opportunity for networking grows immensely. (This is great for finding a job!)
Let’s start with the biggest issue for us all…. finding the money to go back to school. Tuition, rent, car payments, travel, food, clothing, healthcare, etc, etc, etc. All of sudden everything feels 10 times more expensive, and at times it is. However, you can get creative about finding funds if grad school is really your goal. Scholarships, loans, Go Fund Me campaigns, saving, grants, exhaust every absolute option before you decide it’s financially not possible.
Increased work load
The work is hard. Your thesis is HARD. The class work? is HARD. You go from just learning about topics in class to actually working in the field. If you’re an English major and can’t stand to write one more paper, a graduate school thesis of at least 15 pages may not be for you. Really research your program graduation requirements before committing yourself.
If you didn’t have debt before, you may have it now. No one wants more debt, however loans are a large option for many seeking a graduate degree. My loan not only covered the remainder of my school costs, but I also used a portion to pay my monthly rent AND was even able to save a few thousand for the end of the year. While I still have to pay back this money, it was a risky decision I had to make for myself.
Maybe you’ll be able to balance a healthy relationship while you’re getting that degree, but I just… COULD NOT. Having a serious relationship was not a priority for me, because I honestly did not have the time. My classes and work outside classes left me exhausted most days, and that’s not the best energy to try and give someone else. Even casual dating is a pain, however the forced solitude did allow me to achieve some much needed self growth.
Less time to establish your career because…. you’re still a student
One major requirement for the work force is experience. Some companies want you to have 1-3 years experience, but you were in school for the past 1-3 years earning that extra degree. There’s not much time to establish yourself in your career, while attending graduate school. Some programs can even take up to 7 years to complete (depending on the degree and the person) therefore it may be difficult to gain adequate work experience.
So there you have it. Clearly my decision was strongly for graduate school, and I don’t regret going for one second. But everyone does not need to go in order to achieve their dreams. Before you make that big decision make sure you are making it for YOU and not just to impress others. It’s okay if you are close to graduating undergrad and have no idea what’s next. Do not try to “kill time” with graduate school, instead go because you really really really want to. Good luck!