Pause before going to grad school

Illustration: Sage Zbinden

I have heard the terrifying phrase, “A bachelor’s degree is the new high school degree,” far too many times for comfort. As a student, the idea that all the hard work, stress and accumulation of debt caused by a college education has become average and unimpressive is completely petrifying.

In the past, graduating high school was an accomplishment in itself. If a bachelor’s degree is the new high school degree, then graduating simply means one has finished a big landmark but might not be done with higher education yet.

Just as some students decide to take a gap year (or several) after graduating high school, students also have the option to wait before attending graduate school. There are many valid reasons that students should take a break before graduate school.

Students should keep in mind that employers are always searching for qualified job candidates with experience and getting a degree is not the same thing as having an internship or working in one’s field.

If one leaves college with an undergraduate degree and goes straight into a master’s program

with very little experience, he or she may have a di cult time finding a job because of a lack of experience in the field despite educational credentials.

In addition to needing job experience before being recognized as qualified to employers, most students leave their four- year program with a massive amount of debt already. The class of 2017 of college graduates left college with an average of $39,400 of debt, a six percent increase from the previous year, according to Student Loan Hero.

Plunging straight into yet another college program and accumulating more debt can lead to becoming overwhelmed by payments while still searching for new jobs. Especially if one cannot find a fitting, high-paying job directly after graduation, beginning life apart from school can be difficult.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 7 million job openings by the end of September 2018. With so many jobs readily available, any undergraduate student should be able to find a job after graduating. Even if it’s not a dream job, anyone with an undergraduate degree will still be employable.

Postponing a master’s program after college should not be viewed as taking a break. It is a great opportunity to pay off college loans, gain experience in a field and potentially get a job that will support paying for a master’s degree later.

Be content with where you are and do not let the pressure of continuing education get to you. Graduates should be able to work at their own pace and pursue their passion as they discover it, without feeling the need to get a master’s.

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