I recently came across an interesting article over at CNNMoney.com where a reader is trying to answer the question: Should I get a job or go to graduate school? The reader is getting some pressure from mom and dad to go to graduate school and needs some help deciding.
FORTUNE — Dear Annie: I hope you can settle an argument. My parents are saying that with my college major (English), it will probably be hard for me to find a job when I graduate next spring. They want me to go straight to grad school and get a master’s degree, which they say will make me more “marketable.” (They are willing to foot the bill, which I do appreciate.)
But I am really reluctant to start applying because, to be honest, I’m kind of tired of being a student and I’m ready for some kind of real-world experience. I’d really like to join the Peace Corps, which my parents say is “not practical.” Do you have any advice? –Bickering in Boston
I suppose a lot of college students consider this question. I gave it some thought myself when I was about to graduate college and decided to go to graduate school. I suppose my reasoning was arguably flawed as I chose graduate school because I really didn’t know what area of business management I wanted to pursue. I had a lot of different ideas. Fortunately, I came to that decision while getting my graduate degree in business.
Here are some thoughts to consider when trying to make the decision:
Go to graduate school?
- The job market is tough these days, so it may make sense to get a graduate degree to help with marketability.
There’s no doubt that the job market for new grads is tough, and likely to stay that way for a while. Just about one-quarter of the Class of 2010 had jobs lined up by graduation day, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. True, it’s an improvement over last spring, when only 19.7% had been hired by graduation, but that isn’t saying much. No wonder that 28% of new grads go straight into master’s programs, NACE reports, up from about 23% before the recession.
- A graduate degree provides you the opportunity to learn more about your field of interest.
- If you don’t know what you want to do a graduate degree will allow you more time to decide. Although, this could arguably be a waste of money and not worth the risk if you come out on the other side still struggling to make a career decision.
- It’s tougher to go back to school after you’ve been working for a while. I know a lot of people with busy careers and family with dreams of one day going back to graduate school.
Get a job?
- One of the benefits of graduate school is applying your learning to real-life situations. If you don’t have any work experience your graduate degree can sort of become another undergraduate degree. I must say I experienced this when surrounded by many people already in the work force while studying in graduate school. They seemed to use their schooling to improve their skills on the job.
- If you take a job you can begin earning sooner and saving towards financial goals. You can also start paying off student loans sooner.
- Going to graduate school should not be the default answer if you don’t know what you want to do. Again, looking at my situation it was risky. While I did mention above that it could allow for more time to make the decision; I would think some work experience would be a better option to help solidify your next move.
- If you start working you may find your company will help pay for a graduate degree as you advance or have more tenure. This can certainly help the financial situation.
The parents agreed to pay the bill for graduate school in the reader story from CNNMoney.com. Amongst the above list, considering the cost of graduate school is very important. If you’re going to go into debt for graduate school I would think it’s wiser to get a job and save for the continuing education. However, graduate school may be a good move if you can get a scholarship, or mom and dad plan to pay the bill.
I’m sure the situation differs for everyone. Would you add anything else to this list to consider?