This is a very personal decision and one to which the answer depends on many factors. There are a number of important considerations impacting whether to attend graduate school or take a full time position. Some of these factors include location, your financial situation, whether your current (or potential) employer will be supporting your graduate school endeavors, your burn-out quotient, your field of study and finally, how well you performed as an undergraduate/the likelihood of gaining a spot at the program you are seeking. Let’s first get the record straight about field of study. Consider the difference between earning a Doctorate which entails a substantial research component (publications and ultimately a dissertation) which is quite different from earning a professional degree. A professional degree typically excludes research and entails coursework and possibly an internship/licensing requirement. Working on a dissertation is a full time endeavor and by design excludes having another full time job. Attending graduate school for a professional degree is NOT mutually exclusive with heading into to the workplace. In fact, the two are complementary experiences and for many employers as well as programs of study, working full time while obtaining an MBA, law or nursing degree on a part-time basis can enhance your success at school as well as with your employer. Moreover, many medium and larger sized organizations will fund your studies if you are able to maintain a minimum GPA- typically a “B” average. If you are working in a major metropolitan area there are more opportunities to join the workforce and also attend school. This is less likely if the program of study is located where fewer employment opportunities exist. If you are earning your Bachelor’s degree, there’s something to be said for taking a year or even two away from school to recharge after eight years of high school and undergraduate years of study. If your undergraduate record is a strong one, there is certainly no concern to delay applications to graduate school. If your undergraduate record is less than that suggested for admittance to stronger programs of study you’d like to attend at the graduate level, working while possibly taking a class or two to improve your overall portfolio is highly recommended. If you are seeking employment, we can assist with getting you ready for your interviews and preparing very strong resumes and cover letters. When you’re ready to apply to graduate school, we know what it takes to prepare your purpose statement (essay) and organize your graduate school application to ensure success.
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. is the founder and principal educational consultant of College Career Consulting, LLC. She has over 30 years of experience as a university faculty member and shares her knowledge, professional resources and support with students who are ready to advance their lifelong educational and career journeys.