If you have been considering whether to attend graduate school after college versus searching for a job, here are some key questions to ask yourself:
- Do I need additional education to get the job I ultimately want? If so, what kind of education do I need and when in my career do I need it?
- Are there funded programs available for this kind of degree or will I need to take out additional loans?
- If considering professional school (i.e. law school): Do I actually want to be a [insert profession here]?
- Is there anyone I know who has the kind of job I ultimately want that I could ask for advice regarding graduate school options?
Taking a long look at each of these questions before you decide to skip the job market for graduate school applications is critical.
Some careers do not require additional education. Others require additional education part way into a career (for example, many companies will pay or partially pay for you to get an MBA after you start working for them).
One of the biggest mistakes students make is thinking that they must/should attend graduate school as a safety net. But these kinds of schools can be expensive!! If you don’t ever see yourself being a lawyer, why are you spending money on law school? And however you do graduate school, it won’t be easy financially. Some programs you should expect to get funding from (doctoral programs, in particular), though it may not be enough to fully support you. Others like medical or law school, will require additional loans. Thinking about the likelihood you’ll use the degree and the ability of your finances to support it is a critical step.
Finally, if you have the opportunity to seek out someone in the field you want to be in, reach out and ask them about their graduate school experience (or lack thereof). If you don’t know anyone personally, you can always contact your school’s alumni association or career services center to see if they can get you in touch with someone.