Reasons to Wait On Grad SchoolTo Strengthen Your Application: Given the rise of interdisciplinary programs, and overwhelming competition for graduate-school spots, work experience has become a differentiating factor in the admissions process for many top universities.
“If you didn’t participate in meaningful internships or didn’t achieve a high GPA, work experience is the best way to strengthen your candidacy for a top program,” advised Julie Raynor Gross, an independent educational consultant and CEO of Collegiate Gateway.“Working is extremely valuable,” she added, “because it lets you apply theory to practice, so you get more out of your investment in higher education.” To Assess the True ROI: On average, annual tuition for graduate programs at public colleges and universities totals nearly $30,000, rising to $40,000 at private schools, according to research from Peterson’s. And unless you attend part-time, it’s hard to earn a salary while earning your degree. While schools often promise that a graduate education has the potential to increase your earnings and career prospects, it’s not guaranteed. Once you enter the workplace, you get a better idea of how much education you really need or whether it’s possible to substitute work experience or training for an advanced degree (which is usually acceptable in specialties such as programming, software development and network admin). Plus, your employer may offer to foot part of the bill once they see your potential. To Confirm Your True Passion: Economist Neil Howe suggests that only five percent of people pick the right job on the first try. Unless you are absolutely certain that you have chosen a specialty that you will really enjoy, it makes sense to test the waters first. To Cash In on a Hot Market: Unless you’re assured of exiting graduate school as a mid-career professional, why not accept an entry-level job, bank some cash, and get paid to work your way up the ladder? “Go for the money,” advised Marilynn Aiches a career counselor who also provides outside services to the admissions department at UC Berkeley. “From what I’ve seen, self-starters in the tech industry without a master’s degree make just as much as professionals with one. Ageism might be an issue down the road in tech, so my advice is to earn as much as you can, as soon as you can.”