In light of the changing economy and job market, should young adults head to grad school or enter the job market? I had the honor of speaking with Lindsay Ellis at The Wall Street Journal and we discussed the topic of grad school after college.
Here are highlights from our conversation and content from the article, “Should You Give Up Your Salary and Go to Grad School?” published in the Wall Street Journal on January 3, 2023.
Lindsay Ellis: What are the three questions a student or grad should ask themselves before enrolling or applying to grad school?
Beth Hendler-Grunt: The first question young adults should consider is – Are you running toward something or running away from something? What’s your purpose for grad school? Obviously, for certain specialties like medicine, law, architecture, and psychology, you need a higher degree to progress in that field. But other degrees like international relations or human health, what are you hoping to get out of that?
The second question I ask is – Are you interested in looking for a job? Or are you trying to procrastinate because the job search is overwhelming and you are not sure what to pursue?
If a young adult answers “yes”, it’s important to understand what is causing that angst. As I stated in the article, “Grad school is a really expensive procrastination tactic.” Sometimes young adults need more time before entering the workforce. Often, they are not sure what to pursue. This may warrant some more reflection and time to figure things out. Sometimes grads suffer from self-sabotage – they see the headlines or are influenced by other people. They haven’t even given it a go.
The third question to consider– if you do pursue grad school, how do you plan to pay for this? Many think that a master’s degree will enable them to opt for a higher-paying job. But that is not guaranteed. And students should evaluate current loans with new ones. Do you have money to live while attending grad school or would a cushion from working first help you to manage this investment?
Ellis: So what is your recommendation to young adults who are evaluating grad school for a career that is not yet defined?
Hendler-Grunt: I advise grads to work for several years before pursuing a master’s degree. Some experience makes applicants more attractive to grad school admissions offices and makes it easier for students to contribute to class discussions. I have clients who come to me after going to undergrad, they go straight to grad school and then struggle to land employment. Companies are looking for real-world experiences that can translate to the workplace – this can be a micro-internship, part-time job, or volunteer experience but companies want to see skills that are built in the workplace.
Ellis: So how should a young adult determine if grad school is the path to their dream job?
Hendler-Grunt: To determine whether graduate school is the path to that dream job, ask a school’s admissions division to connect you with alumni, or find them on LinkedIn. Then ask those alumni how they got their positions. Or, work backward: On LinkedIn, identify someone who went to your undergraduate school and now has a job you want, and see whether they got a postsecondary credential.
My net advice is, experience with education is the best combination. Read the full WSJ article here.
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