As college students, we often wonder what life will be like after we graduate. The options are endless: You could take time to travel, gain work experience for a future career or just jump right into your desired profession full time.
After graduation, many of us often think about pursuing graduate school as it will benefit us in many ways but also allow us to stay in our comfort zones of being in school as we have been our entire lives. It can be intimidating to start working full time in the profession you have studied for four years but maybe do not feel fully ready to begin.
However, it’s important that we all look at what exactly graduate school would do for us before applying, attending and possibly adding hundreds of thousands to our debt. Especially considering that financial aid works differently for graduate school; Students are often considered independent rather than dependents of their parents and less financial aid is given on average, along with higher interest rates and borrowing limits, which could possibly lead to more debt.
For certain students, such as those working toward becoming a doctor, lawyer or practicing therapist, the decision is much easier considering you are required to obtain a graduate degree, but for most other professions, this may not be necessary. Students considering graduate school, even if it is not a requirement for their future career, should first look into what graduate school could actually do for them financially, professionally and personally.
Undergraduate programs allow students to explore a multitude of careers, as it is essentially designed to let students find what they are passionate about through a variety of courses in the first two years. Unlike undergraduate school, graduate programs focus on one specific career in a more academically-demanding manner for the entirety of your time there.
Therefore, attending graduate school is not a beneficial choice for undergraduate students who are unsure of what they want to pursue after graduation. This is especially true for students who are considering doing so out of the simple desire to continue school to postpone entering the full-time work force.
While all of this is important to consider, there are also undeniable advantages to graduate school if you know what you want to study and ultimately do with your degree. For example, it can raise your salary potential, allow you to reach your full potential with your passion or help you pursue a career change. Additionally, because over a third of Americans have undergraduate degrees, a graduate degree can enhance your salary potential and lead to more career opportunities.
For students who have found their true passion in their undergraduate degree, pursuing further education could be a great way to expand their knowledge and potential in their career. Many graduate programs lead students to become professors, researchers or even published in their field by the time they graduate, making you highly successful already.
Lastly, if you are considering a career change after obtaining your undergraduate degree, or possibly want to combine more than one passion into a future career, graduate school could be an exceptional way to do so. For example, if you get your undergraduate degree in English and by the time you graduate you want to pursue political science, law school is a great way to do so.
Personally, as I am currently double majoring in communication media and Spanish, I am considering going to graduate school for journalism or Spanish as it could lead me to many different types of careers as an international journalist, Spanish or communication professor and more. However, I am not set on the idea just yet, as I want to consider all of the options I can pursue with my undergraduate degrees and make sure I know exactly what I want to study if I choose to go.
I encourage other students to evaluate their circumstances as well and truly think about whether graduate school is the best decision for them.