If you are thinking about graduate school, you are not alone. Are you asking yourself if you need a break post-Davidson before you pursue your next course of study? Deciding on a program and when to enter is a big decision. Before you send off those applications and secure your enrollment spot, it’s a good idea to ask yourself a few questions and take time to reflect on whether or not graduate school is the appropriate next step for you.
The first question I ask most students who meet with me to chat about researching graduate programs and application prep is simple: why? For each person, the answer is different. Immediate entry into graduate school may give you a leg up in your professional field of interest. Many times graduate or professional school will afford you a number of specialized skills or certifications and help propel you into the next step of that particular industry. For example – if you want to be an attorney, then at some point, attending law school, succeeding in your studies, and passing the Bar exam is a pre-requisite before you can attempt to practice law. In other fields, a graduate degree may be required simply for candidacy of application to apply. However, this is not always the case. Some graduate programs are more likely to admit an applicant who has work experience. It is important to identify the norm or standard of education in a given field – and do a bit of research to find out whether or not graduate school immediately after college is a necessary or realistic goal.
Another big question to ask yourself: are you ready? By ready, I simply mean are you ready to continue attending school for several months or years? As you approach graduation, you may find that you would like a break from school to recharge before you pursue another academic program. Perhaps you would like to gain some “real world” experience and explore the world of work a bit before deciding which field of study is the best one for you. Maybe you would like to travel the world or give back in the form of volunteering or service work. Gap years are increasingly common for students and a great year to gain more experience, sharpen your professional skills and supplement your academic pursuits before pursuing a graduate or professional degree.
Whatever you decide, remember that the choice is yours. Family, friends, and other influencers will not be attending classes (or work) for you. Adjusting to a new academic or work environment and geographic location is a major life transition and certainly worth consideration and intention.
As you explore your options, you have many questions. Visit with faculty advisors to discuss your areas of interest and strategies to identify the programs that would best suit your interests. Learn more about the ins and outs of graduate school application prep, and how to make the most of your post-graduate studies, by visiting the Center for Career Development. Take some time to reflect as to whether or not graduate school right after college is the right choice for you now – or in the future.