Some people go to grad school immediately after obtaining their Bachelor Degrees. For some professions, like teaching, this is necessary. Most of the time, however, taking some time off before diving back into academia and going after the first of what might be several graduate degrees is a good idea.
If you went after your Bachelor Degree right after you graduated from high school (which is the most common course of action these days) this means that you have spent at least seventeen years of your 22-23 year long life in a classroom which, no matter what your professors tell you, is not the same thing as being in “the real world.” Putting off the “real world” for another few years might feel like it isn’t that big a deal, especially with academia being al that you know. Really, though, taking some time to live outside of an educational environment is good for you.
For one thing, taking the time off will help you figure out whether or not you genuinely want to continue learning or if the drive to go to grad school exists because it’s what all of your friends are doing and what your professors are pressuring you to do.
Taking time off will give you some perspective on the subjects that you’ve been studying. Do you honestly enjoy them enough to continue on with them? Or are you simply attached to them because you’re stubborn and feel like taking another path will be disloyal to the people who taught you?
Taking at least a year off between undergrad and grad school will teach you some harsh realities of living in the real world which, no matter how much studying you’ve done, is nothing like the world of academia. It will teach you how to handle people in a social and professional environment that isn’t dictated by the bounds of an educational system. Leaving campus behind, even if it is just for a little while, will teach you far more than you could learn from a book or in a classroom.
If you take some time to gain practical experience in your field you’ll find out whether or not you genuinely need the master’s degree to continue to advance in your field. Some fields like medicine and engineering require the extra years of schooling if you ever want to move beyond an entry level position. Others, like those in the communications and arts fields, take more of a “learn on the job” and “work experience matters most” approach to their ladders of success.
If you take at least a year to work in the field you’ve studied, you’ll get to see what actually spending every day using what you’ve learned is like. It is not uncommon for undergrads to go out into the field and discover that they hate the reality of what they’ve studied. It’s better to discover this before you spend a few extra years studying it.
Taking time off gives you time to work and earn money. This will teach you the realities of budgeting and living within your means. It also gives you time to pay down your undergrad loans so that they won’t be hanging over your head when you go back to school. You can also save up money to help fund your master’s degree so that you won’t have to worry about taking out extra loans on top of what you already owe.
These are just some of the things you should consider as you weigh the pros and cons of waiting before going after your master’s degree.
This is a guest post from Becky W.