Deeper Dive Into the Grad School Vs Work Dilemma

The question of whether to go to graduate school immediately after graduating is a question that many post-grads have. Ms. Career Girl contributor Jessie Langley tackled in her 2012 piece To Grad School or Not to Grad School. Langley points out a graduate education might be required for certain career paths and graduate school can be useful if you’re stuck in a rut professionally.

With the cost of college gradually increasing and student loan debt sky rocketing, I wanted to give the topic of graduate school a more thorough evaluation. Should you attend? And if you do, when is the best time to go? Should you jump immediately into the program or should you wait a few years?

Let’s delve into the various reasons individuals enroll in a graduate program.

grad school

Undergraduate Degree Didn’t Adequately Prepare For a Career

Liberal arts educational programs sometimes fail to equip individuals to enter the work force. What professors and schools might not tell their students is if the student pursued a philosophy or English literature major, it might be up to them to seek the elective classes or train themselves outside of work in the skills that employers will expect them to have.

The CNBC article For a Job After Graduation Major In These, Not Those reveals the unfortunate truth. Many unprepared liberal arts students  will “end up going to graduate school to get a more skills-oriented degree, such as law, business, or accounting.”   Who  wants to gamble with the chance they will not be lucky enough to find an employer who will provide the training?

If you fall into this category, I would recommend you at least try to find a job before applying to graduate school (especially if you have undergraduate student loans). No reason to sink further in debt if you don’t have to.

Specialized Training with Experts

Graduate writing programs in particular are attended (not to increase employability), but to receive in-depth training with expert writers. Students often choose their perspective programs based on the expert writers that currently teach classes in the program. The program can also give budding writers a period of time where all they are responsible for is working on creating short stories, poems, and novels. The entire graduate experience increases the chance of becoming a professional writer.

If you fall into this category and can afford it, you might want to at least spend a bit of time researching which graduate programs might provide the best writing experience.

Decrease Time Required to Receive Certifications

Graduate programs can be utilized to decrease the time it takes to receive professional certifications that can open the doors to landing higher paying jobs within the industry.

Paul Di Gangi, an assistant professor at University of Alabama Birmingham said in a webinar on data security that the top paying jobs in the field usually require the professional to take the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam. The certification, like many professional certifications, requires that the professional work in the field for a certain period of time (in this case 5 years). A graduate degree from a certified educational program can cut the time required to work in the field before taking the exam from 5 years to 4 years.

If you fall into this category, in most cases I would recommend you work in the field for a few years before going to grad school. In some cases, university grad programs either require or recommend that you have a few years of work experience before applying.

Post-Grad Career Requirements

Many careers require post grad education simply to get started in the field. Doctors need to attend medical school. Lawyers need to attend law school. In these cases, students should immediately dive into post-bachelorette education.

In other cases, a graduate degree won’t be required until the individual is ready to try to obtain jobs higher up on the metaphorical professional ladder. A career in nursing is a good example of this. Nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing can work in dozens of different jobs including staff nurse, charge nurse, unit team leader, and assistant nurse manager.

Some graduate credentials won’t be needed until you get to the professional stage where you want to move into upper management or you wish to take on a more independent role. In cases like these, you might serve yourself better in the long run if you don’t immediately rush off into a graduate education.

Working in the field for at least a year or two will allow you to determine what career you will be best suited to pursue. That decision will change the type of graduate program you will enroll in. And depending on the program and the university, you might be required work a bit before applying.

decisions grad school

Whether or not to pursue a graduate education depends highly on an individual’s bachelor degree, skill level, and dream career. Before making the final decision to start applying to graduate programs, I would recommend analyzing where you fall within the above categories. Due to the expense of grad programs, it’s best not to rush into post-bachelorette education.


Image Credit: Main   Unsplash   Graduate School Kevin Harber

Samantha Stauf

Samantha Stauf graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in technical writing. In the last year and a half, she has been working in the marketing department at a local start-up

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