Should You Go to Grad School Right After Undergrad?
Knowing when to go to grad school can be very tricky—just another thing to think about aside from the consuming questions of where to go, how you’ll pay for it, why it would support your goals, and which degree you’ll choose. There are already so many factors to weigh to decide going to grad school in the first place, let alone when!
When it comes down to it, you essentially have two options: you can either go either now, or you can go later. Making that ‘when’ decision isn’t that simple, of course, but it can be further clarified when organized around these two broad (very broad) paths. And from here, you can begin to break down the pros and cons for each option. So what will it be: now or later?
Socrates said, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” And knowing thyself is at the very root of your decision of when to attend grad school. If you know yourself, then you know your goals—both personal and professional, mental and emotional—and can therefore rely more easily the wisdom that Socrates was talking about.
Take the time to ask yourself what your goals are. If you are unclear about your career field and education path, then maybe you need time to explore. If you have dreamed about in a particular industry since you were six, then continuing straight into your graduate field is the obvious next step.
You might need time to figure out who you are and what you desire in life. But to take that time is to make all the difference in your peace of mind and self-assuredness. Goals and dreams and hopes can be ever evolving, a frankly beautiful ‘gray zone’ that comes with being human. But as you really understand yourself and the ways in which your goals are evolving, then you will be better able to know your when.
Consider Your Finances.
Everything can feel so overwhelming you consider your grad school timeline—especially when it comes to finances. While you’re seeking yourself and writing down some goals, it’s wise to take into account the financial aspect when you might attend grad school.
Are you going to apply for a fellowship or teaching assistantship? Would that make or break your decision of whether to go at all? Do your research on schools, prices, payment options, and repayment plans, but also note that, depending where you are in life, you may have other financial options available. For example, some companies may foot the bill or provide some financial assistance to help their employees earn their master’s degree.
You could save up some money to help pay for grad school, but putting aside too much time may put you in a position that makes it tough to break away from your career or find space in your schedule to go back to school at all. The further along you are—whether that be in your career or your commitments to your family—the harder it might be to delegate your time and money to such a large commitment as grad school. And the more your finances are in order, the more peace of mind you can have as you know that what you’re paying for is really, truly what you desire.
Take On A New Perspective.
On average, education takes up about a quarter (20 years) of one’s life. You’ve been in school since you were as young as four or five years old! Maybe a couple years of a break between undergrad and grad school can be beneficial. That’s the power of perspective.
No matter the circumstance, what you’re feeling, and what others are saying, realize that perspective is key. If you believe that time is on your side no matter when you choose to go to grad school, then the power of your ‘when’ doesn’t have to have a strong hold on you.
Maybe you feel burned out from undergrad and want some space to explore the world outside of textbooks, mac n’ cheese, and loud roommates. A change of pace could be enlightening. Or maybe you’re riding a wave of achievement after receiving your bachelor’s degree and can’t wait to continue on toward that grad degree. That momentum could be what fuels your fire. And that’s all up to you to find out.
So, whether you decide to pursue grad school immediately after undergrad, or if you want to wait a year or two (or ten!), there is comfort in knowing that there’s no clear right or wrong decision. Each person’s life is different, which means that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find clarity as you make your decision. All you need to do is seek to know yourself, consider your finances, and take on the mindset that, no matter what you choose, it’s going to be the right decision for you.
Once you are ready to start searching for grad schools, we’re here to help. Abound: Grad School is loaded with schools that provide the solid education and flexibility that you’ll need no matter where you are in life.