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I Picked the Wrong Masters Program, What Do I Do Now?

Ana-Marcela Lopez / Find a Grad Program »

You took the exams, wrote the personal statements, got accepted, and now you’re regretting it. What do you do when after all the hard work you put in has led you to the wrong degree? If you’re feeling frustrated, guilty, and maybe even ashamed, don’t worry—you’re not alone. These feelings are totally natural, but don’t let them get you down. There are steps you can take to get to where you want to be. Think about why you started, what you’ve learned, and how you can use what you already have to find something great. 

Did you pick the wrong school?:

Are you frustrated with your professors? Are you lost in the crowd? Are you struggling with the style of learning or the coursework? Were you expecting more from your university? If most of your frustrations are caused by your university itself, consider transferring to another school that will better serve you. A school better suited to your needs can help you find inspiration in your path and find that dream job. 

Did you pick the wrong program?:

Most students pursue a master’s degree as a means to an exciting career, so you probably had one or two in mind when you were applying to programs. You too might be frustrated if the coursework isn’t inspiring, fulfilling, or what you expected it to be. But if your heart is still set on the same occupation, consider alternate routes to that destination. Take some time to research a few professionals working in your desired field and see how they got to where they are. You might even connect with them to pick their brains about for some solid advice and encouragement. 

Did you pick the wrong career?: 

Do you love what you’re learning, but hate what you’re doing? If the career prospects in your field aren’t what you expected or what you want, then you might need to do some soul-searching and networking. Think about your strengths and weaknesses, and then research which jobs might suit your degree and interests. Get curious! Talk to your friends, colleagues, and mentors to help you find a dream job. Depending on the job, you might need to continue school (this time, however, pursuing a degree in a field you find worthwhile). If you have more flexibility, you can get creative about pitching your knowledge and experience to future employers. Take stock of your skills and explain how they will make you a good fit for the job. And don’t discount the possibility of entering an internship or assistantship; experience in your desired field might bolster a résumé that otherwise lacks the appropriate degree. 

Do you want to do something else entirely?:

If it’s not your university, your program, or career prospects that made you regret this decision, but rather the fact that you just really want to do something different, that’s okay too. Sometimes changing gears just isn’t enough, so you’re better off getting out of the car entirely! But don’t forget to grab your skills, knowledge, and experience as you hop into the next driver’s seat. 

It may feel like you’re starting over, or that you wasted your time, but that’s not the case! Your skills, knowledge, and experience will likely transfer to whatever other field you choose, as soft skills are important and can serve you well in any field. We often think of higher education as a linear path to a degree. While that piece of paper is valuable, it doesn’t eclipse the knowledge, skills, and experience you gained. No matter your reasons for wanting a change, we’re here to help. Abound: Grad School narrows down your options and gets you in touch with schools that we can confirm are Accessible, Affordable, Accelerated, and Advanced. Take a look at the schools that cater to non-traditional students and find the program that works for you.

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