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When's the Right Time in Life to Get Your Master's?
By: Jon    |    June 14, 2012   |   8 Comments (0) (0)

If youíve spent any time looking for a job these days, chances are youíve noticed that more employers are requiring applicants to hold advanced degrees. Additionally, youíve probably heard someone say something along the lines of, ďA bachelorís degree is the equivalent of a high school diploma twenty years ago.Ē

While the value of a bachelorís degree still holds, thereís no denying that a graduate degree can improve your job prospects and earning power. However, if you are still in school, youíre probably trying to decide when would be the best time to go to graduate school. Do you go straight from college and forgo entering the workforce right away or do you wait a few years to get some work experience, and then seek your degree?

Consider some of these ideas when youíre trying to make this important decision.

Do Not Pass GoÖHead Straight to School

Some might argue that right after finishing your undergraduate degree is the best time to head to graduate school. If you are continuing the study of your major subject, the basic concepts of the subject will still be fresh in your mind, and you wonít have to spend as much time refreshing your base knowledge. Of course, going straight from college to college, you are still in ďschool mode.Ē Youíre used to attending classes, studying and writing papers, and havenít had a chance to build up the other distractions that could hamper your academic progress.

Case in point: if you wait to go back to school, youíll find a career, maybe start a family and fill your calendar for the next five, ten, twenty years. Starting a masterís program right out of a 4-year college allows you to put some of those life changes on hold for a couple of years. In some cases, your chosen career path might actually require a masterís degree, which means you should definitely start grad school immediately.

There are some drawbacks to going straight into a masterís program. Money is a big one. If you are graduating from college with debt, going to grad school will only increase that burden and you probably wonít be able to work much to supplement the loans. In addition, you wonít have the work and life experience to bring to your studies, which often enhances the grad school experience.

Take a Break

After finishing four years of school, itís possible that the last thing you want is more school. Many students opt to take a break between college and masterís programs, for many reasons. You might be better off to wait, for example, if you arenít sure what you want to study. Grad school involves a great deal of time and expense, so if you are going to make such a large investment, you should be sure of what you want to study and a plan for afterwards.

Holding off on grad school might also be a good idea if your college performance wasnít the best. Without any work or life experience, grad schools only have your college record to go on when assessing your application. If you have already settled into a stellar career, though, the admissions committee will weigh lightly on your college transcript. In some cases, you may realize that you donít actually need that masterís degree after allóor that you want to take a completely different career path.

Graduating from college with a high level of debt might also spur you to put off grad school. The longer you put off paying back your loans, the more interest youíll pay. Taking a few years to pay down that debt before incurring more is a smart financial move, helping ensure that you wonít get your masterís and drown in debt shortly thereafter. As a bonus, if you wait until youíve been working for a few years, your employer might pick up some of the tab for your masterís coursesóthat is, if itís relevant to your position.

The decision to seek your masterís is not one to take lightly, regardless of it being a nursing, computer science or MPA degree. Donít base your choice on not wanting to get a job, nor does it guarantee youíll earn more when you finally start your career. Spend some time assessing your ultimate goal before enrolling in grad school, and you can avoid wasting both time and money.

This guest post article was written and provided by Isabel Jones. Isabel finished her Bachelorís degree this last fall, and is now working towards her Masters of Organizational Leadership degree.

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