The spring semester has just started but graduation is looming for college seniors. Some have already started job hunting but others aren’t quite sure what will happen after May. Many are asking themselves, “Is going to graduate school a good idea?”
If you’re studying to become a doctor, attorney, or other type of professional that requires an advanced degree, then grad school is definitely on the horizon. But even if a master’s degree is not absolutely required to enter your chosen field, there’s still a chance it could be to your benefit.
Many new college grads enter the workforce and return to graduate school a few years down the road, but other students earn their degrees in succession. Choosing whether or not you want to continue your education immediately after earning your bachelor’s degree is a big decision—one that will require a lot more research and soul searching than a blog post can offer—but here are some major pros and cons to consider:
1. The economy and unemployment rates are improving, but the job market is still less than ideal—even for college grads. Bachelor’s degrees are almost a requirement for most entry level jobs in many career fields. An advanced degree can open more doors for employment opportunities.
2. A graduate degree can help you enter the workforce in a more advanced position and increase your earning potential. However, this depends greatly on your field of study.
3. Earning an advanced degree takes a lot more work and dedication than earning a bachelor’s degree. Doing so can show prospective employers that you’re willing to go the extra mile.
4. You might be able to work as a teaching assistant (TA) while pursuing your degree. You won’t be a full-time employee of the university, but TA positions usually include a paid stipend and/or tuition waiver and some type of healthcare plan.
5. Even if you do not have a background in education, a graduate degree could lead to teaching at the university level. Many community college and adjunct professors have master’s degrees.
1. Graduate programs have fewer students than undergraduate programs. It’s tougher to get accepted and there might be fierce competition among students.
2. If you wind up being one of a handful of students in your program who enrolled immediately after earning your bachelor’s degree, you won’t have the “real world experience” or age advantage that some of the others will have, which could be a detriment.
3. It won’t be easy. The coursework is a lot harder and there’s a good chance you’ll have to write a thesis statement to graduate, which most people find mentally draining not to mention incredibly time consuming.
4. Graduate programs can be really expensive! The cost per credit hour for graduate school is considerably higher than it is for undergraduate. You could easily accumulate tens of thousands of dollars in additional student loans.
5. There’s always the chance that your graduate degree won’t help you land a higher paying job or more advanced position. You could even wind up being told you’re overqualified for available openings.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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