Career & Education

Go to grad school or get a job?

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, May 19, 2019

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Dear Career Advisor:

I'm seeking your guidance to help me decide whether I should go to graduate school in the next school year or not. I have just completed my bachelor's degree and I am torn between continuing my education in a master's programme or entering the world of work. What would you suggest?

Regards,

Michelle T.

Dear Michelle:

The decision to attend graduate school is one of the most important decisions you will have to make on your career journey. For many people, it is a natural progression after the completion of an undergraduate degree, but there is also value to be had from gaining professional expereince before taking on graduate work. Either way, it is a decision that requires careful consideration. Therefore, before you download the application form for graduate school, there are some pointed questions you must ask yourself. These include:

• What are my career goals? Do they require the acquisition of a graduate degree?

• What commitments and sacrifices will I have to make to complete a graduate degree?

• What benefits will I derive by completing a graduate degree?

• Should I attend immediately after completing the undergraduate degree or should I wait for a more appropriate time?

• Is my professional aspiration tied to climbing the corporate ladder or becoming involved in academia?

• Are there areas of knowledge for which I have significant interest and curiosity?

• Do I have a strong desire for learning and a passion for academic research?

• Do I have a sense of commitment to tasks?

• Am I self-directed and motivated and find satisfaction in academic rigour?

• Do I want to propel your career entry or advancement?

If you have answered 'yes' to any or all of the foregoing, then graduate studies might be the right choice for you.

Consider carefully your abilities, interests, goals and desires. Honestly assess your strengths and areas needing improvement. Graduate studies will require a significant investment in time and money. Bear in mind also that, for some graduate degrees (for example the EMBA), prior work experience is required. In fact, garnering work experience before entering graduate school allows you to better make the connections between theory and practice, and lends to depth in intellectual discussions.

Finally, do your research of the programme and the institution at which the degree is being offered. Talk to people who are in your desired field of study and practice. Explore options for financing your programme. Do a self-check to see if you are really passionate about the area.

Sincerely,

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at careeradvisor@ncu.edu.jm


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