To Go Or Not To Go… To Grad School: That Is The Question

I get it. You just graduated from college, a huge weight has been lifted and the last thing on your mind is more school. A big chapter of your life just ended and it’s time for a new start, but where to begin? Some recent grads know what they want and jump right into their job search, while others choose to dive further into their education to discover what it is they want to take on. Yes – I’m talking about grad school. It can be scary, it can be challenging and there are a million things to consider when applying. When I began debating whether or not I should go back to school, a number of questions that ran through my head…

Where would I apply? How much would it cost? How long do I go? What major do I go for? Do I really want to go to school again?…the list goes on.

Of course all of these questions have merit and should be weighted carefully. It’s a decision only you can make and it has to be for you. Grad school is not for everyone. Some go right out of undergrad and others wait a few years before they go. I know people that actually went to grad school for a while and decided it’s not their thing. It’s different for everyone and if you decide that you know what you want and you’re ready for a job then go for it. I bet you’ll do great and all the more power to you!

But for me, I needed more time and grad school was a total discovery process. My mom always said that you could never go wrong with investing in yourself because you’ll always come out with much more than when you came in. She was right, but aren’t they always? My two-year program in broadcast journalism was incredibly difficult. But it helped me to learn about the industry I was going to be in, prepared me for the “real world” and gave me hands on experience that I never had before. It was the step I needed to build my skills and gain a whole new sense of who I am, which was a much more confident and driven person.

In grad school there’s no rolling out of bed to class, no meal plans, no professors to hold your hand and most of the work is done outside of school. You’re treated as an adult. What I was grateful for in grad school was the environment. I had my time in college to be sheltered and carefree. In grad school it was time to buckle down and be fully responsible for the outcomes of everything I did. Of course there were some serious late nights work sessions, absurd extra hours and stressed out tears in my two years. All of my classmates became my closest confidantes because they were really the only ones who could understand. But when I went to grad school I was a bright-eyed 22-year old and when I left, I was a 24-year old young adult ready to work my way up to my dreams because I had learned how.

If you’ve asked yourself all the right questions and think grad school may be the next step for you, I urge you to research programs and truly consider it. It worked for me.

Here are some tips I have for those of you (post-grads and undergrads) thinking about going to grad school:

Grades

IF you’re lucky to still be an undergrad, keep your grades up while you still can! Even during your last year when senioritis kicks into high gear, they matter! And for those of you post-grads that are worried your grades aren’t good enough, study crazy hard for those GRE’s and GMAT’s. Also write a killer essay, detailed and heartfelt. Tell them why you deserve to be at their school. Recommendations are key too. Pick someone who knows you well and will write you a strong letter.

Cost

Yes just like your undergrad experience, grad school ridiculously expensive. It’s all about loans and applying for scholarships. Some schools offer very specific grad scholarships that you might qualify for. Check on their sites or call the admissions office to inquire. Also, there are still work-study options for grad students. The best part is that some are pretty hands on and can teach you a lot. If living at home is a possibility for you I suggest it – It will save you a ton. I got pretty lucky and worked out a system with my roommates (cough mom and dad cough). They were very supportive.

Job Security

There is no such thing. Please don’t apply to grad school if you think it’s going to guarantee yourself a job right after graduation. Take it from me…it still takes time. It’s never easy to find a job, but having a master’s degree on your resume will definitely show future employers that you’re serious. You took an extra step by spending a lot of time and energy to learn the industry and to perfect your skill set.

Hiding From Real Life?

I’ve had a few people ask me if going to grad school is just another way of hiding for two (or four… or more) years before you absolutely have to get a job. My answer is always no. If hiding means working incredibly hard for two years so that I have the ability to be great in my field… then maybe everyone should hide for a while. I like to call it a time out. A chance to network, challenge yourself and if you’re willing to put in the effort, a learning experience that no one can take away from you. If you’re doing something along the lines of furthering your education and/or experience, you’re not delaying the real world. But if you go backpacking across Europe for a year, that my friends is hiding from the real world.

The Bottom Line: In my opinion, it’s worth it. There were so many times in my program where I asked myself, why did I decide to do this again? Then I’d accomplish something amazing like land a great interview or produce my own show and I’d see all my hard work pay off. I would be one step closer to my goal and I’d answer… oh right that’s why. And I promise – if you choose to go the grad school route whether you just graduated or you graduated years ago, you will feel the same!

1 Comment
  1. Yayyy! I’m going back in the Fall (Sept. 7th) after taking 2 years off. I mostly took 2 years off because I didn’t know what I would want to go back for and I found the timing to be perfect now because I have a job that will help pay for my tuition. I am so excited/nervous and I can’t wait to be able to slap that on my resume.

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