The Career Services Web site is intended to offer general information for students and alumni pursuing various types of degrees, including, but not limited to, degrees in psychology, business, sciences, history, international relations, counseling, music, history, religion, art, languages, education and more. Those seeking information on pre-law or pre-health programs should visit their respective advising Web sites.
As graduation quickly approaches, students tend to wrestle with the age-old question, "What should I do, go to grad school or get a job?" For some, this is an easy question to resolve; for others, additional thought and evaluation are required. Going to graduate school is a tremendous investment of time, energy and financial resources. You should be certain that this investment will help you achieve your future goals. Take time to think about WHY you want to attend graduate school.
If you are confident about your career goals and an advanced degree is required for entrance into your chosen field, you should apply for graduate school admission. Those students who have decided to go into medicine or law often fall in this category. Take into account that graduate school admission is generally very competitive; you may need to complete additional course work or gain work experience to be considered a strong candidate for the graduate program of your choice.
In addition, those students who have a strong desire for advanced studies of a chosen subject, regardless of a specific career goal, may also choose to enter graduate school with confidence. In other words, will your decision to attend a graduate or professional program satisfy your goals/ambitions/thirst for knowledge? If, however, your decision is based purely on default or lack of clear career direction, graduate school is not for you.
As a result of frustration with the job search process, some seniors decide to enter graduate school to avoid the complicated process of finding a job. This strategy can actually lead to more frustration and confusion. Many of these students find that graduate school did not provide the "answer" they sought and will finish graduate programs still uncertain of future goals and facing a difficult job search. Furthermore, very few employers are willing to take a risk on a misdirected candidate regardless of his/her advanced educational credentials. If postponing a career decision is your reason for considering graduate study, schedule an appointment with a counselor in Career Services to discuss your options.
Each year, many graduate students realize that the programs they are studying are not consistent with their values and interests. Several of these students have already completed one or two years of study before coming to this realization. By carefully exploring your interests and values, you can avoid this predicament of lost time and money. Examine all of your choices while you are an undergraduate and make your decision with confidence.
For some students, the decision about when to pursue an advanced degree is quite complicated. Some will argue that by attending graduate school immediately following undergraduate school, you will be more successful because your study skills are well developed and you are comfortable in the academic environment. Others will insist that you need a break and that work experience will help to solidify your career goals. Regardless, you should remember that you are the person who will attend the classes, read the articles, and write the papers. Although the opinions of your friends and family are valuable, in the end, it is YOU who must decide if and when to attend graduate school.
It is important to consider the value of work experience prior to graduate school. Related work experience will add to your credentials and may strengthen your application for more competitive graduate programs. Work experience may also help you to identify related career paths that were unfamiliar to you. This exposure may cause you to redirect your interests and to apply to different programs than you may have originally considered. It is also realistic to consider the financial impact of graduate school. Many employers value continuing education and will help their employees fund advanced degrees on a part-time basis. Some employers will even pay up to 100% of educational expenses for their employees.
The decision to attend graduate school is yours to make; no one else can make it for you. Be sure to give this decision careful thought. Take time to consider the questions below and reflect on your answers.
What are my career goals?
How will an advanced degree help me attain these goals? Is an advanced degree required for my career field?
Do I really enjoy this topic that I plan to study for the next two to seven years?
Have I discussed my plans with an advisor and a career counselor?
Do I have the academic stamina to continue in my pursuits or do I need time to re-energize?
Do I have specific experience and/or knowledge in this field of study?
Do I possess the grades and test scores necessary for admittance into the program of my choice?
Will full-time work experience enhance my credentials for graduate school admittance?
Do I have the financial resources to attend graduate school?