“Should I get my master’s right after my bachelor’s?”
If you’re asking yourself this question, chances are you’re at a crossroads of whether or not to continue your schooling. Truthfully, there’s no easy answer to this question. There are a number of factors to consider when deciding if you should continue your higher education.
Luckily for you, we’ve broken this complicated question down and dissected the reasoning for both continuing on with a master’s and taking a break in between degrees. Keep reading to see how doing a master’s right away can be a good decision for some, reasons you should wait, and what to think about before making your choice.
Advantages of Getting Your Master’s Right After Your Undergrad
Many undergrad students already have their minds made up about going to grad school before they’re even close to done with their bachelor’s degree. If you fall into this category, then you likely don’t need to be convinced of which path to take.
However, if you’re not so certain, you might be wondering what the advantages are of going straight into grad school after your undergrad.
Here are a few of the factors to take into consideration that can help influence your decision.
You’re Already In “Study Mode”
Getting back into a studious school mindset when you’ve been out of academia for a while is very tough. It’s undeniably easier to continue on with your studies when you’re already used to the student way of life.
As a current student, you’re already used to the lifestyle. You’ve probably gotten into your own rhythm of studying and sitting exams, you’re used to living a little more budget-friendly, and you’ve successfully balanced your social life and education. Therefore, the transition to a master’s program won’t be a difficult one at all compared to someone who’s been out of school for a long period of time.
Delay Your Loan Repayment
While your finances shouldn’t ultimately dictate your life choices, the financial benefit to going to grad school right away is a big one. Many students consider this a deciding factor in continuing with a master’s degree right away.
If you’re continuing with your education, it’s possible in some cases to defer your undergraduate loan repayment. Your loan won’t be forgiven, but you’ll be allowed to continue to study and take out further loans before you have to pay anything back. It’s important to look into student loan deferment before applying to grad school, as the terms may differ depending on if you have a private or federal loan.
Continue Studying With Your Peers
Regardless of if you have close friends in college when doing your undergrad, doing a master’s degree with your peers and your generation is much easier than being a mature student.
If you have close friends who are also continuing their education into grad school, then it will be easier for you to adapt to a new and more demanding course load with familiar people by your side.
While there are advantages to being a mature student, you’ll likely have an easier time fitting in with other grad school students, getting scholarships, and even finding placements and internships when you’re around the same age as the others in your program.
Benefits of Waiting to Attend Grad School
Despite all the advantages to doing your master’s right after your bachelor’s, there are also ways in which waiting to go to grad school can be really beneficial.
Here are a few of the reasons you might want to wait on going to grad school.
Grad School is Expensive
Considering how much you’ve just paid for your bachelor’s degree, it may seem daunting to dish out more money and apply for more loans so soon.
Before you accept a spot in a graduate program, it’s important to really consider if this investment is worth it. Consult with experts in your field or student advisors to see if a master’s degree truly aligns with your career goals.
In some fields, a master’s degree is absolutely required. However, in others, a master’s degree might be helpful, but it won’t ultimately lead to a higher starting salary or a higher position. If dishing out thousands of dollars on grad school doesn’t translate into more money when you enter the job market, then is a master’s degree really worth getting right away?
Earn a Salary and Work Experience
No one’s denying that a master’s degree is generally worth having. However, a master’s degree coupled with relevant work experience is invaluable.
After your bachelor’s, you might want to start working right away in order to recoup some of the money spent on your undergrad and even save some funds. While working, you’ll also learn a lot and get hands-on experience in your field.
On-the-job experience is almost always preferable to more degrees when it comes to applying for new jobs or seeking a promotion. Furthermore, if you do decide to go to grad school later on in life, having the right work experience can significantly increase your chances of getting accepted to the program of your choice.
Your Future Employer Might Pay For It
Why spend the money when you can get a degree for free?
Some employers see the value in educating the employees they already have, so they have programs in place for paying for grad school. Even if they’re unable to pay for the entirety of your master’s degree, most companies can offer to subsidize the cost by offering tuition assistance.
You can save yourself thousands of dollars by waiting for your employer to pay for grad school. If you’ve worked hard in your job and proven your skills and your worth to the company, your employers will have a vested interest in investing in your training and your schooling.
What to Consider Before Getting a Master’s After Your Bachelor’s
There are advantages on both sides of this argument, but the ultimate decision of whether or not to continue your schooling really depends on you. If you find yourself stuck between these two choices, then it might be time to look at what you already have to offer employers and to also consider your end goals.
There are many things you can take into consideration when making such a significant decision, but these three factors are a good place to start.
If you’re dead set on becoming a professor or working in another area of academia, then getting a master’s degree is a no-brainer. In this case, your path is clear: go to grad school.
However, if you’re not sure if you want a career in academia and you’re weighing other job options, then take a step back and assess if grad school is really the best way to land your dream job.
In a lot of cases, getting work experience is a good idea. If you want to apply to grad school in the future, having relevant experience can help you.
On top of that, it allows you to see if your chosen career path is really what you want to be doing for the rest of your life. Before dedicating more time, energy, and money to a master’s degree, it’s helpful to work in your chosen field to be sure that you want to continue developing in the same direction.
Improve Your Resume
Just in case it hasn’t sunk in, let’s reiterate: work experience is important.
Acceptance to grad school is highly competitive, so you’ll need a strong CV in order to stand out from the crowd. The best way to do this? You guessed it, get relevant work experience.
This isn’t only a suggestion. In fact, some master’s programs even require you to have work experience in the field in order to apply. For example, if you’re looking to do an MBA, you’ll often need a proven track record of work you’ve done.
Of course, this work experience can be done in conjunction with your undergrad in the form of internships or volunteer work. Still, taking a year or two off between degrees to develop your skills can be the difference between getting accepted to grad school or getting rejected.
The last consideration is more of a logistical one, but it’s just as important nonetheless.
You’re going to want to do a lot of research into funding options for grad school before you begin. Grad school doesn’t come cheap, so if you’re pretty set on going then it’s necessary you know what you’re getting into financially.
Research everything from the cost of tuition and the cost of living, scholarship options, loans and interest rates, and application deadlines for student aid. If you’re going to be too stressed about your finances to focus on your studies, then you should consider waiting a year or two so that you can work, save up some money, and apply when you’re more financially stable.
If money is the only thing stopping you from attending grad school, then there are cheaper options available. Look for online programs or distance learning as they often come at a lower cost. University of the People has an online MBA in Business Management as well as a Master in Education program. The best part? Both programs are tuition-free.
The Bottom Line
The best way to answer the burning question of “should I get my master’s right after my bachelor’s” is to make a list. Yes, a pros and cons list may seem old-fashioned, but it’s probably the best way for you to find an answer to this question.
Whichever way you’re leaning, there is no wrong time to do a master’s degree. Regardless of whether you wait or do your degree right away, you won’t regret deepening your education.