Graduate School or Work?

I cannot make up my mind.  Do I go to graduate school or start working and then return to graduate school? There are pros and cons to each decision. Graduate school is expensive and time consuming, yet it allows you to further your education in a specific field. It is a tough decision that I will have to make next December, and some students will have to make as soon as this summer. So, I wanted to take a look at a few of the pros and cons of going to graduate school immediately after earning a bachelor’s degree.

Earning your master’s degree only increases your expertise in a specific subject and helps you to better prepare yourself for the work environment, but it cost time and money. If you immediately go from earning your bachelor’s degree to pursuing your master’s, the transition would not be as dramatic if you were to take a break from school and later go back to school. I know that if I work for a few years, I will potentially learn more about the specialized area of study that I want to focus on in graduate school, but nobody knows what life will bring. I’m not sure that you can plan out life step-by-step for ten years to come. Something could happen, such as getting married and having kids, and then you might not be able to go back to school.  As a student you have less obligations and responsibilities to the world, and after being a student for the first 20-some-odd years of your life, you might as well be a student for a few more before entering the “real world.”  Another mitigating factor is money. If you have the money to attend graduate school you might as well. Graduate school is expensive; just because you have the money now, doesn’t mean you will have it in a few years, right?

On the other hand, deciding to enter the work force and not immediately pursue after graduate school, you can work a little bit and earn some valuable experience in certain career fields that you would like to go back and study while obtaining your master’s. Also, by working, you can get a better feel for the career field you would like to spend the rest of your life in. Let’s say that you want to be a computer salesman, and right after undergraduate school you are offered a job at a good company to be a computer salesman. Do you begin working for that company because it is an offer in your selected field, or do you take a chance, turn down the offer and go to school? I think it might be hard to turn down a paycheck in your selected career field in order to go back to school for a few more years. Some graduate school programs actually require you to have work experience before entering their master’s program, but it seems difficult to imagine turning down paychecks and in-turn spending money to go back to school.

In my specific case, I’m getting an undergraduate degree in public relations but I have a passion for (sports) marketing. If I go to graduate school and get a Master in Business Administration (MBA), I would increase my intelligence in marketing and put myself in a position to get a better job in the future. So do I enter the public relations workforce, with hopes of gaining some marketing experience before returning to school, or do I tough it out for a few more years in school so that I am better prepared when I enter the workforce? Feel free to help me, I need as much as I can get.

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7 Responses to Graduate School or Work?

  1. tmoore says:

    I completely agree that further education (graduate school) or starting a career after finishing 4 years and a bachelors degree is a very tought decision.
    In this day and age in the work force, the more education you have to offer is always the best way to ensure a better job and successful career in the future. However, taking the exta time to earn a bachelors degree also means delaying money making and a career and moreover, paying for more schooling.
    My opinion is that one should always take advantage of obtaining as much knowledge, education and schooling as possible and if possible. For me personally, I have decided to first try to start my career one I graduate this spring with my bachelors degree and then take up graduate school if I have a hard time fining a good job; mainly because I want and need to start making money rather than paying for more school, for the time being at least

  2. jalbaz says:

    I always was taught that to attend graduate school right after undergrad was for people who were studying to become doctors/lawyers/pyschologists etc, rather than just because the person wasn’t ready for work yet. Once you get into a career or feild that appeals to you, then after a few years if you want to have more specialized knowledge or move up to a bigger position with more responsibilities in a specific area or knowledge, I would say it is time to go to graduate school. This makes sense specifically for people in business who need to get there MBA. A lot of my friends are now talking about graduate school because they are afraid of not finding a job when they graduate, but I think people need to really know what area they want to gain expertise in before just jumping into it.

  3. jmetz says:

    I would say it depends what job it is. If the job is a great offer that you don”t want to pass up GO FOR IT! Anyone who has a job offer come their way at this time should feel privileged. However, if it is a job you do not feel compelled to take, then this is the perfect time to continue your education. Furthermore, it will give you an opportunity to expand your education, and it will give you more knowledge about your field of study. When you come out of graduate school you will be more educated than a student who went straight into the career world. I also recommend holding a part time job while in graduate school. This way, you will gain even more experience on the side. Good luck!

  4. In all likelihood it will take you a year to find a job and when it comes along you had better grab it for pretty much whatever they are offering to pay. If you have the economic means to pursue higher education while ALSO taking an unpaid internship that gives you practical experience go for it. Just don’t expect that additional diploma to make that much of a difference ini the job hunt. You are doing it for your own intellectual stimulation, not with an ulterior motive.

  5. dsmith says:

    I personally think no education compares to real life work experience. No matter how many internships I do, I don’t think I will ever feel a sense of repetition or tedium because I am always learning new things I didn’t initially know going in. Field experience offers immeasurable value that cannot be compared to something read in a book. Yes you can study and read text about your industry but until you put these skills to use, they mean nothing.

    At some point I would definitely like to get my masters for my own sake but after I graduate in May I plan on job searching. Some large organizations will even pay for a small portion of graduate school while you are working for them as they see fit.

  6. aguido says:

    A lot of people tell me that it is difficult to get back to school from taking a break because “life gets in the way.” Generally they mean you might meet someone and/or have children, move elsewhere to attend some dire need that arises or simply enjoy what you do after school so much that you don’t actually want to go back. Those are very specific reasons for choosing not to go back, but I have witnessed people go through some of those examples and still juggle another degree on top of whatever is going on in their life.

    I do agree that nothing compares with real job experience. Of course, it depends on what career you are hoping for. A doctor won’t get far (or have a chance to even be a doctor) if he or she doesn’t do a certain amount of years of education. I’m pretty sure the business school requires two years of experience out in the field before getting a master’s, and I think there is good logic behind that. I feel I have learned a lot more from my internships about employment than school will ever teach me. I have asked the same question about whether or not to continue with my education and while having a degree or several can give you a great advantage in landing a job (if it is not a requirement), I am told that real life experience will give you a greater advantage.

    I would plan to work for a year or so and then think about more school once you have gained a better understanding of your field.

  7. cwilusz says:

    I am very pro-education but I feel that for our line of work I believe the work experience is what is vital not the number of degrees you obtain. We are in a fortunate field where experience outweighs education. I would get the work experience and create a portfolio and then go to grad school after you have established yourself.

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