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What are the factors that I should consider whether or not graduate school is appropriate for me?

I am almost done with my bachelor degree in college, and I'm not sure if going to graduate school is right for me.
For now, I would like to explore the work market for a while first.
I would like to get some advice on how I should determine or assess myself in future if I wanted to go on to graduate school.
Thanks! #graduate #academic-advising

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Tamara’s Answer

Hollie, it sounds like you have a very clear head and are prioritizing well. With your interests in culture, diversity, travel, and society, Psychology or Social Work would be great areas for you. I am a firm believer in education, and reaching for the highest star. Bachelor degrees are quickly becoming obsolete, and graduate degrees are taking their place in the workforce. Obtaining a Master's degree can be affordable, and done completely online so you can continue to work and travel. Once you start looking into a doctoral degree comes the major financial issue if you are solely responsible for funding your education. There is a lifetime max on federal loans, so be wise about your funding. After I completed my undergraduate degree, I could not find a job locally. I took a position teaching English overseas in South Korea, and it was an awesome experience. I wish I would have stayed longer! It allowed me to work, travel, and teach the most amazing kids English as a second language. That is definitely something for you to consider if you are unsure of your next educational goal. While abroad is when I decided to pursue my Master's, and I began an online program while there. If you do decide on grad school, which I highly recommend, there are a host of different specializations in Psychology that are specific to your interests, or pursue a MSW. I do also suggest that if you go that route become certified in as many things as you can. It will help you in the long run, and looks great on your resume/CV. Lastly, consider looking for jobs now that offer tuition reimbursement or will simply pay for you to obtain the degree (as stated by Ken Simmons). Pinpoint your number one passion out of the list of interests you provided and make a move towards that. If you do what you love, you will never work a day in life. Helping others and giving back is extremely rewarding!! Good luck!!

Thank you comment icon Inspirational! Also +1 from me on the note about being cautious about funding if you do choose to go for advanced degrees. Jared Chung, Admin
Thank you comment icon Thanks Jared! Tamara Smith, M.S., CPLC
Thank you comment icon Thanks so much for the comment! Hopefully I can find a job asap and earn some experience before I go back to school for higher education. I strongly agree that having a degree beyond bachelors is increasingly useful and important nowadays. I hope working and volunteering in different fields can help me understand myself a little bit more and direct me to the program that I would like to pursue in future. Hollie
Thank you comment icon You're welcome. Good luck!! I'm positive you will make the right choice! Tamara Smith, M.S., CPLC
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Ken’s Answer

Hi Hollie!


It might be a good idea to work for a while. Many employers will pay for the masters degree of a highly valued employee. Also, working for a while might give you a better idea of the type of higher education that you might want to pursue.

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Tamara’s Answer

To determine if graduate school is a viable choice for you, knowing what your Bachelor's degree is in, and your interests would be helpful. Lets start with that and see which direction is best for you. :)

Thank you comment icon I am getting a B.A (cultural anthropology major) and I'm interested in areas that involve understanding culture and practices. I am willing to get in touch with people living on the social margins and improve and empower them. I love travelling and communicating with different sorts of people. I also value the importance of human diversity and equality. I'll start volunteering at a non-profit org soon and will be co-teaching English to refugees and immigrants. Going to graduate school is a long journey that involves many aspects. I also heard people quitting their jobs to spare time in pursuing their master degree, but that also means they'll have lesser financial support. There seems to be a lot of considerations and I really hope that I can know them earlier in preparing my future path. Hollie
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Gary’s Answer

Hi,
Great question, I had to ponder that question about 12 years ago...basically I decided to start grad. school then I did not finish due to economics mainly and it just did not seem like the time/money would be a benefit to me with my career goals at the time.
I think the best questions to ask yourself is can I afford to spend the time and money in grad school and what will be the benefit(s) of having a graduate degree? Would it be better to gain work experience and then attend graduate school? You can also work and attend graduate school part time...I think the answer really depends on what your ultimate goal is and how well you know yourself and if you will go back to finish grad school later if you want to do that.
good luck!

Thank you comment icon I am pretty sure that i have to get some exposure to the work market for now to be financially independent and to enrich my experience. But seems like I'm not sure what my strengths are and if my current interest will hold in future. For now I am not sure if getting another degree will benefit me in a large extent because I don't quite know yet what kind of career path I will eventually take on...does that mean I should decide it a year or two later when I can find a clearer picture of what I want? Hollie
Thank you comment icon Hi...yes, it sounds like work experience would really help you define your goals a lot and help you financially as well. Graduate school can be quite expensive, more than your undergraduate education. The world of work is always changing but you can usually find a place to use your experience and your degree even when things change. Think of your career as a journey and not necessarily a destination, it can be a fun journey too! Good luck! :) Gary Petito
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Kim’s Answer

Job applicants today have both education (bachelor's degree) and experience. You need both. I've seen many young people procrastinate the inevitable (getting a job, even if low-paying) by going for their Master's. A few years later, they are still in the same situation: highly educated, but with no experience (oh, and they have more debt). At least from what I see, people who are highly educated but not very experienced have trouble finding work. Having an education does not prove that you are capable of doing what the employer needs to have done. It proves that you stay on task to complete goals. I would not invest any more money in a degree until I knew which direction my career was going. It could easily be that degree would be in Management, for example. I would encourage you to get out and experience life, get a feel for what you like and don't like, and go from there. And, try to find an employer with a tuition reimbursement program!


(hope this is not too negative - it is a fairly realistic view of what I have observed).


Best of luck!


Kim

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