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Making the Decision

Should I go on to Graduate School?

Graduate/Professional Sometimes Required
If you have a clear sense of your career direction, and if an advanced degree is required for entry into that field, then applying to graduate school makes perfect sense. Law, medicine, and college or university teaching, for instance, are areas in which education beyond the undergraduate level is required. Or, if you want to immerse yourself in the study of a particular academic discipline purely for the love of it, then advanced study will probably turn out to be a satisfying and valuable experience.

Not Always a Clear-Cut Decision
For most college graduates, however, the decision to continue their education will not be as clear-cut. If you’re unsure of your career goals, this can present a real problem at the graduate level, where you are expected to have clearly defined interests leading to an area of specialization.

Work Experience Can be an Asset
A convincing argument can be made that working in an area related to your interests before pursuing graduate study can lead to a more effective experience in graduate school. First, related work experience will help you clarify your goals. You will learn what it takes to be successful in a given profession and can then assess your abilities accordingly. This knowledge should help you decide on an area of specialization. Second, the perspective, learning, and maturity acquired from practical experience can be applied to the theoretical concepts promoted in your studies and should increase your understanding of them. Finally, work experience can sometimes enhance your application credentials by offsetting mediocre grades or test scores. In the case of some competitive professional schools, admissions committees may be as interested in your work background as your “numbers.”

Article from National Association of Colleges and Employers – Job Choices Magazine 2003