If you are serious about applying to grad school, this blog post is for you. Consider taking some time off to see where your career might take you. You might find yourself going into a different field than you thought, or after assessing the current job market, you might want to try your hand at a new career. You also might keep your current job and look for advanced opportunities in your current field. The choices are endless. So, if you rush into grad school right away, how are you expected to make the right one? Here are five reasons why you should take a break before applying to grad school.
1. It's Expensive
If you have been surviving on ramen noodles and hot dogs for last four years, you will have to continue until you finish your graduate degree. According to Petersons.com, graduate school tuition can cost you $30,000 or more per year. Although financial aid is available, you’ll want to make sure you’ll be able to live with the costs of your graduate degree, long term. And if are are one of the 43.3 million Americans that owe student loans in 2016, you know that six months from now, you’ll have to start paying back your undergraduate school loans For the most part, you’ll want to find steady work in your field while you are completing your Master’s. This way, you’ll be able to pay some of your graduate school fees up front to decrease debt in the long run. In addition to this, you’ll also want to set aside enough money make a dent in your undergraduate student loans.
2. You Need Experience
The truth is, you can still you can still loose out on job opportunities if you have an advanced degree and no experience. Try to land a couple of internships (if you haven’t already) related to your career field. Even better: find entry level work in a similar field. If you have your bachelor’s and you’re still unsure of what you want to do with it, hold off on graduate school applications all together and use your passion and current skills to guide your career path.
3. You're Burned Out
You just spent four years taking exams and fighting for extra credit. Take a breather! If you’re feeling burned out by school, make sure you use your summer and fall to relax, have fun, and most of all, prepare for the “post grad” life. Yes I said it, “post-grad”. We like to glamorize it, but it can be a time of disarray and confusion. You’ll need the basics-transportation, a place to live, and a steady income- until you can get yourself fully situated. Move back home and sleep on your parent’s couch until you figure things out.
During the application process, you will be asked to provide your cumulative GPA. Some graduate programs have minimum requirements that you must have in order to apply. If you feel like your GPA over the last four years wasn’t as high as you’d hoped, try to find a university that allows students to take graduate-level courses individually. You can even apply for a graduate certificate, which will give you an idea of what it would be like. You can then use your graduate certificate GPA to prove to admissions you can do well with graduate course work.
4. Your Undergraduate Grades Will Follow You
During the application process, you will be asked to provide your cumulative GPA from your undergraduate days.Some graduate programs have minimum requirements that you must have in order to apply. If you feel like your GPA over the last four years wasn’t as high as you’d hoped, try to find a university that allows students to take graduate-level courses individually. You can even apply for a graduate certificate, which will give you an idea of what it would be like. You can then use your graduate certificate GPA to prove to admissions you can do well with graduate course work.
5. You Need Time to Explore
Graduate school is not the time to explore your options, it’s the time to specialize. It seems like many of my peers relied on graduate school as a second chance, or a chance to “make up” for an undergraduate degree that they didn’t find work with. Don’t make that mistake. If you want time to figure out what you want to do, take an internship, volunteer abroad, or find a job that will give you experience throughout the summer. Remember: After you pursue your Master’s, employers want to see specialization and experience. Now is the time to explore by applying to different positions and build a resume that matches the type of job you want to have.
6. You Want to Travel
Don’t even think about taking an epic adventure through the Swiss Alps once you commit to grad school. For those of you dream of traveling after college, put those dreams first, because after graduate school and a full time job, you may not have another chance. If you want to travel the world before committing to adult life, now is your time to do so!
7. You Want to Start A Business
Sometimes the best was to start your own business is to go ahead and dive in. After all, many CEOs found their success without graduate school. However, if your goal is to be a business owner and you feel education is essential, apply for your graduate degree and use your business strategy as a case study to help you in the future.
8. You're Tying the Knot
If marriage is an immediate priority, get settled with your partner and put your degree on hold. Your partner’s plans may or may not involve grad school, and if they do, you might have to compromise on a variety of issues to create a lifestyle that will work for the both of you. Sit down and have a serious talk with your partner before jumping into a grad program.
9. You're Moving
Your new location can obviously play a big part in where you attend graduate school. If moving away from your hometown or college town is a priority, you’ll want to move and get settled first and think about graduate school opportunities later. Also, many schools have different takes on the same degree, with different focuses. For example, Full Sail University and Florida Tech full are both located in Florida. Full Sail University has a Master’s Degree that focuses on the detailed aspects of Internet Marketing, while the MBA at Florida Tech University offers an MBA with a small concentration in Internet Marketing. These differences are indicators of what type of knowledge you will specialize in. One degree program would give the student a full understanding of internet marketing techniques while the other degree would concentrate on economics and finance, with a smaller concentration in internet marketing. You should consider what type of skills would be better for your job search, and choose your degree type accordingly.
10. Scholarships are of the Essence
If you want to see how much aid you can get before you start, get in contact with someone who can help you with the financial side of planning your graduate school degree. Ask about scholarship opportunities. Do you have scholarship funds from your undergraduate degree that you can transfer to your graduate school degree? If so, you may want to plan to use your scholarships before they expire.
11. You Need More Skills
These are the best years of your life. Don’t let anyone pressure to go to graduate school if you aren’t sure about where you want your career to take you. Factor in all other aspects of your life before you make your final decision.