I Go To Graduate School & When
Attending graduate school
immediately after graduation is a big decision. Careful reflection on your reasons for wanting to continue your
education will help to ensure a sound decision. If you have a clear
sense of what career you want to pursue, and if an advanced degree is
required for entry into that field, then graduate school is for you.
most college graduates, however, the decision to continue school
will not be as clear-cut. Unsure
of your career interests, you may regard the campus as a sheltered place in
which to "find yourself." While
this view is common and acceptable for undergraduates, it can present a real
problem at the graduate level where you are expected to have clearly defined
interests leading to an area of specialization.
A convincing argument for gaining work experience related to your
interests before entering graduate school can be made.
- First, related
work experience will help you clarify ambiguous career goals. You will find out what it takes to be successful in a given profession,
and you can then assess your abilities accordingly; this knowledge should help
you decide upon an area of specialization.
- Second, the perspective, learning, and maturity acquired from
practical experience can be applied to the theoretical concepts promoted in
your studies and should increase your understanding of them.
Listed below are
several reasons that students give for pursuing graduate school immediately
after graduation. Check to see
where your reasoning falls.
- You have career goals that make graduate school necessary.
- You want to specialize in a particular field, to do research, or to broaden expertise in an area.
- You can get a better job or promotion with a graduate degree.
- Law, medicine, and college
or university teaching, for
instance, are areas in which
education beyond the
baccalaureate level is required.
- If you want to immerse
yourself in the study of a
particular academic discipline
purely for the love of it, and
would never forgive yourself if
you did not at least give it a
try, then advanced study will
probably turn out to be a
satisfying and valuable
- You cannot get a job with a B.A./B.S. because of overcrowding in the field.
- You want to avoid looking for a job and/or do not know what else to do.
- You do not know what you want for a career and you think more school
will help you decide. (You are
expected to have career goals when you apply to graduate school.)
- It is expected after college (by parents or professors).
to attend graduate school is not a decision to be made hastily or with a
limited information base. Making
an informed decision about pursuing a graduate degree requires in-depth
self-assessment combined with long-term goal setting.
- Before applying for further study, you need to be aware of
the working conditions, employment prospects and physical and mental
requirements of the field you plan to pursue.
- Second, the more immediate demands of the components of a graduate
school experience, research, coursework, papers, teaching, etc., must be
considered. When giving
consideration to these issues, you must look for a match between these demands
and your interests, needs, skills and career goals.
of the reasons frequently given by students who have withdrawn from graduate
programs are a dislike of concentrated academic work and a realization that
they had not defined their career goals adequately and clearly. By answering the following questions and assessing your needs,
interests, values, skills and goals, you can hopefully avoid similar problems
and therefore, make an informed decision about pursuing a graduate degree.
- What do I want to accomplish in my lifetime?
- What are my long-range and short-range career goals?
- Is graduate study necessary for me to achieve these goals?
- Do I have the interest and abilities to be successful in a graduate program?
- What type of value, if any, do I place on attaining a graduate degree?
- Am I mentally and physically prepared to undertake such a long-term
- At the present time, do I have other needs that conflict with pursuing a graduate
- I have enough information about this career field to determine if I
make a long term commitment to pursuing a graduate degree?
- Can I realistically invest the time and money required to pursue another academic
"Graduate School In Your Plans?" Job Choices: 2001, p. 91.
Helpful Web Sites:
When to go to Grad School?-Work first or attend right after graduation.
About Grad School-a
load of helpful info including letters of reference etc.
useful site with many resources