The Pros and Cons of Going to Graduate School Right Away

By Catherine Groux
Posted July 26, 2012 06:37 AM

Many students question whether they should go to graduate school right away.
Many students question whether they should go to graduate school right away.
When students graduate from college and earn a coveted bachelor's degree, they may be considering whether they should enroll at a graduate school right away or wait a few years. To answer their questions, Dr. Don Martin, an Aristotle Circle admissions expert, recently offered his advice.

What are the pros and cons of going to graduate school right after college?

While Martin said there is no true right or wrong when making the graduate school decision, there are definite pros and cons that come with choosing to earn a master's degree immediately after receiving a bachelor's.

According to Martin, the biggest advantage of going to graduate school right away is that students are, overall, more familiar with the educational process. They know how to manage their time, complete academic assignments and attend class on a regular basis.

"You can kind of move right from one successful academic experience into another without something happening in between that takes your mind off academics," Martin said in a recent interview. "Some students find that to be very appealing."

However, on the flip side, going to graduate school immediately means individuals will not have the chance to gain professional experience before beginning their master's degree. As Martin knows, developing a solid knowledge of a field can prove invaluable to students.

"From personal experience in my own career, I took two years between my undergraduate and my master's program and I took five years between my master's program and my PhD," Martin said. "For me personally, I found that in both cases, the experience I did have outside the classroom was something I could draw on. I felt it benefited me and gave me a little bit of perspective when I got into these graduate programs that I might not otherwise have had if I went straight through." 

What should students consider when making the graduate school decision?

First and foremost, Martin said students should think about what type of master's or professional degree they are planning on earning. Some advanced programs, like law and medical studies, prefer individuals to complete a bachelor's degree and jump right into graduate school. Business schools, on the other hand, often want students to spend a few years working in the industry and gaining experience before applying.

Additionally, students should thoroughly research their field before they consider sending in an application to a master's degree program. They should know what career options they will have if they earn an advanced credential as well as what their specific graduate program will entail.

Martin said it is also crucial for prospective graduate students to analyze their finances before making any decisions. While he does not like to tell individuals to avoid graduate school because of the cost, he feels students should be prepared to take out loans and bear this heavy financial obligation.

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