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The Right Time for Graduate School

The years after college represent a unique opportunity to test your career interests. For some, it may be more helpful to work for a time before pursuing a graduate degree. Howard Figler, author of “A Career Workbook for Liberal Arts Students,” writes:

“The years following undergraduate school can be a time for reflection, exploration, and taking a long look around at your possibilities. Jobs can be accepted chiefly for the purpose of observing and testing your perceptions of vocational realities. However, if you do not explore, the early 20’s of your life can be spoiled or distorted by shaky career commitments. These years can be filled with many reality testing experiences. There is a delicate settling process which must occur in the blending of your interests, values, and career goals. Self-reflections ordinarily should be tempered by exposure to work, before you can make any sense of your goals…”

Think about the positive and negative aspects of studying now vs. waiting for a while. You might want to talk about this with people in the field. After considerable reflection, you should be able to complete the following statements as they apply to you.

  • What are the advantages of waiting two – five years before pursuing graduate study in my field?
  • What are the disadvantages of waiting two – five years before pursuing graduate study in my field?

You Can Always Go Later

One of the best things about graduate school is you do not have to do it now. If after asking yourself the right questions and doing a little research, you are still not sure, maybe you should wait.

The advantage of going to graduate school right after college is that you have become accustomed to being a student. You have developed study habits and a certain amount of discipline which you can carry with you to the new academic environment. The advantage of waiting is that your graduate school experience will be infinitely more worthwhile to you if you go because you are ready, not just because it seemed like a good thing to do.

Graduate school training can open a great many doors for you, but only if you are ready. If you have a genuine interest in your field and a sense of purpose, you are certain to be successful in graduate school and in your career.

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