Graduate School or Not

As a career adviser, students often ask me this question all the time – “Should I go to graduate school or not?”  Much to their disappointment, my reply is “it depends.”  What do you want to do with your degree?  What industries are you interested in?  Do the fields that you are looking to break into call for someone who has a Master’s?  Or does a few years of experience make you a more qualified candidate for the positions you want?

As overwhelming as these questions sound, they are a vital part in the process of deciding if graduate school is the right direction for you.  I’ve seen too many students enter graduate school for the wrong reasons and then end up not being prepared for the real world once they graduate.  Either they went to graduate school right after their undergraduate degree and felt completely burnt out or their parents pressured them into continuing their education despite their desire to start working after college.  I’ve also seen students attend graduate school right after their undergraduate degree, because they simply did not know what to do with their lives.  A good article to read before deciding if graduate school is the right path for you is here (http://www.petersons.com/graduate-schools/guide-students-graduate-school.aspx).

My biggest advice would be to 1) do your research about the industry/industries you want to get into and figure out if a Master’s right out of undergraduate school is the right choice for you, 2) ask yourself why you want to go to graduate school and decide if you are truly ready for another two years of intensive and specialized coursework, and 3) set up informational interviews with current graduate students in the program(s) you are thinking about applying for.  They might have more insights on the pros and cons of going to graduate school and how to prepare for it.

-Isabelle Huang