Many individuals who are finishing up their undergraduate degrees are faced with the dilemma of choosing between pursuing higher education or jumping into the real world and landing a full-time job. There are certainly pros and cons to each path, but ultimately it comes down to the individual. If you are facing this conundrum, here are some things you may want to consider:
Many people in favor of going to graduate school straight out of college argue that this creates a much smoother transition. You are still in “school mode”, having spent the last 17 or so years of your life in the classroom, and you don’t have as many commitments in the real world that are holding you back. Because you are fresh out of college, you don’t have a job that will be difficult to leave, and you likely don’t have a family of your own to think about when potentially moving across the country. In short, you still have the flexibility that makes focusing on graduate school much easier.
People in favor of graduate school after college also argue that in this sort of economy, delaying the job search may be a good idea. You don’t have to enter the fray quite yet, and in addition to waiting out an iffy job market, you are adding more credibility to your name by earning additional degrees and accolades.
The downside of entering graduate school is that if the institution you are attending does not sponsor your degree, you are getting yourself into further debt without the guarantee of a job immediately after graduation. You may also lack the real world experience to determine what exactly you want to pursue, and whether or not your choice of study will be useful in the real world.
One of the biggest pros for waiting a few years before going back to school is that the real world experience you bring with you enriches your academic experience. You have a better perspective on the practical use of your degree and know more thoroughly what you want to get out of it. Waiting a few years before returning to your studies may also ensure that you end up pursuing an area that you’re actually interested in, instead of jumping into something right away just for the sake of staying in school.
Another plus to having some real world experience under your belt is that, upon graduation, you are more likely to land a great job. Companies often prefer real world experience in addition to a degree, as opposed to someone who has the same degree but no idea of what it’s like to be in a real working environment. Also, there is the added benefit of already having the proper connections from your previous job to help get you back on your feet and working again, which you wouldn’t have had if you went straight into grad school.
The downside to putting off graduate school is that it may be difficult to get back into it. You may find that you love your job and it’s difficult to leave. You may have a family, in which case it could be hard to relocate to a place that otherwise would have been an ideal fit for you. Or you may feel too distanced from academia itself to feel entirely comfortable heading back.
There are certainly drawbacks to each side of the debate, but people pursue both paths successfully all the time. What it really comes down to is weighing all the pros and cons and deciding what is right for YOU.
All the best,
The Doostang Team