January 19th, 2010
People say that graduate school – or any kind of advanced degree program – is the new undergrad. Now that everyone and their brothers have college diplomas, students feel the need to set themselves apart from their peers before they enter the workforce. Although furthering your education is never a bad idea, it might not be the most practical decision.
If you plan to attend graduate, law, business or medical school, it shouldn't be a spur-of-the-moment decision. Be sure the additional time and money you'd invest into attaining an advanced degree would be well-spent. Only continue your education if you've always been committed to your field, or if you know there will be a job waiting for you upon graduation. For example, if you've always had a passion for debate and the welfare of others, and you've planned to become a lawyer since junior high, you'll be more likely to stay committed to your goal amid the challenges of law school, where competition is the name of the game. A random liberal arts major who knows nothing about the profession other than its earning potential would probably have a more difficult time making it to graduation. A business management major with no work experience probably wouldn't fulfill his potential by pursuing an MBA immediately after undergrad. Most companies prefer real-world work experience. In many cases, business professionals use an MBA to add to their experience; it's a means of advancing beyond the position they've already achieved. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, one in five MBA grads were jobless three months after graduation in 2009.
Too often these days there are more graduates with advanced degrees than available jobs. The oversaturation is partly due to the recent recession; new college graduates have been tempted to delay their entrance into the real world by pursuing an advanced degree. In reality, nothing can substitute for work experience. After one or two years on the job, your employment opportunities will increase because you've shown that you can actually perform a job – as opposed to just knowing how to do it. You'll endure the struggles that come with entering a new career and fending for yourself financially, and as a result, you become a responsible adult. Ultimately, your bachelor's degree is what's going to enable you to enter the professional world – even if it takes longer than usual due to the economy. An advanced degree can supplement your career, but only if it's pursued in the right way.