Whether it was a genuine interest to advance their education or a desire to avoid the real world, people left and right were filling out graduate school applications and talking about it like it was the only possible option. In a moment of panic I too submitted a few applications, just in case I needed a back up to my plan to take a year off.
Two months at home made me realize a year off would feel like an eternity, which is why within a week I accepted an offer at my current university, bought a plane ticket and signed the first lease I could find. Was it a rushed decision? Yes. But without it I wouldn't be where I am today. With all that said, it's been a complete rollercoaster, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't wished I had waited a bit before jumping into more years of school.
Below are the five benefits of not entering graduate school immediately after college graduation, as well as my reason for doing it despite the reasons below.
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Gain work experienceIt can be scary to graduate from college and begin to job hunt, especially when you have minimal work experience and no real clue of where to begin. As someone who had to get a job immediately after graduation I can completely relate, and trust me when I tell you that it's not impossible. Don't be afraid to take a job you feel your overqualified for, because some experience is better than nothing. Spending time in the workforce will give you skills you can't get in any graduate program, so don't minimize the benefits of skipping school and going straight to work.
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Determine the right degree for youIf you're in any way unsure of what to earn a masters in, it's better to take time to be sure instead of spending money on the wrong program. Graduate school is substantially more expensive than undergrad, so you want to make sure it's the right degree you're working towards. Spend some time researching various types of masters and the possible career paths each can lead to.
Learn about the various universitiesOnce you know what you want to study, make sure the school meets your qualifications. As much as I enjoy my program, I do have serious issues with my actual campus. Had I know then what I know now, I would have definitely picked a different university. Talk to current students, look up opinions of the program online, and don't be afraid to ask the hard questions to admissions counselors.
Figure out the costDid I mention graduate school can be expensive? Cause I think it's worth mentioning again. If your plan is to go right after college, chances are you'll need a loan to cover the costs, even if you work while in school. Compare the costs of different programs, as well as the cost of living in the city the campus is located. Taking time off not only gives you the opportunity to your research, but save money and apply for scholarships.
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Better your chances of being acceptedIf your program of choice is competitive, it may be of benefit to spend that year off gaining work and volunteer experience. Most college graduates have similar resumes, but a year is all it takes to gain life experience that can set you apart from the crowd. Talk to people who have already been admitted about what they did before attending the school for ideas on how to boost your chances of being accepted.
Why I didn't waitOften I say I started a graduate school immediately after college because I was bored at home and my mom was pressuring me to figure my life out. While that is true, the other side is that I've known for a long time exactly what I want to do with my life. If you're like me and have no hesitancy about your career path, go for it! My only advice is that you not sell yourself short. Don't attend a school just because it's the only one that let you in or that you can afford. Do your research, reach out to others and make sure to set yourself up to enjoy the process of earning your masters.
Are you considering grad school? Leave any questions or advice you have in the comments below!