Earning a bachelor’s degree is a great accomplishment in and of itself, considering 40% of undergraduate students drop out of college and 30% drop out before sophomore year. However, it’s pretty clear that more and more recent grads, especially those in their early 20s, struggle with knowing what the next big step is. If you match that demographic and you’ve recently graduated from an undergrad program, you have definitely asked yourself the following questions in the past 6 months: “Do I look for a job and start my career?” or “Do I go back to school?”
These are all valid options, of course, but which one is the right path for you? This decision between finding a job or going to graduate school is one that sends so many new graduates into a future-thinking stalemate, and it’s not talked about enough on the platforms that encourage post-undergrads to choose one path over the other.
Unlike medical school or law school, most graduate programs aren’t necessarily a required step when it comes to getting a job, albeit, the likelihood of getting a job with a master’s degree over a bachelor’s degree is much higher. The path to medical school starts as an undergrad, making the decision to continue your education post-undergrad pretty much set in stone. You shouldn’t, however, make the decision on whether to go back to school based on the feeling of obligation. You spent four years pulling all-nighters in the library to earn your first degree; graduate school isn’t going to be easier, so make sure you’re going for the right reasons.
The Right Reasons to Choose the Graduate School Path
What are those “right” reasons you ask? That’s really up to you to decide; one person’s “right” could be another’s “never in a million years.” With that being said, there are definitely wrong reasons to go back to school or to not go back to school, whichever way you prefer to look at it. For instance, if your response to someone who has asked you why you decided to go back to school for your master’s degree is, “Eh, I don’t know, I’m not really sure what else to do, plus I get to defer my loans for a few more years!”, then you probably shouldn’t be going back to graduate school right now. The problem is that going to a college or university right after high school has become such an automatic and natural next step for the millennial generation that, once they’ve finished, they have no idea what’s expected of them. So much so that a campaign by the Ad Council is being developed to highlight alternatives to a bachelor’s degree.
Trust Your Instincts
Furthermore, if graduate school is a way for you to put your life on hold for a little longer until you “figure it out,” then you should reconsider and look for a job in the meantime to gain some real-life experience. Graduate school can be a great and fruitful investment, but it can also be extremely stressful and cause you to inevitably burn out if you’re not going for the right reasons. The important thing to remember is to make your own decisions and trust your own instincts, and everything else will eventually come together.