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Career Development Center University of Illinois Springfield

Considering Grad School

When considering whether to continue on to grad school directly after acquiring your bachelor’s degree, there are many questions that should be asked before jumping into a degree program. You should be familiar with the field that you are entering into and both the requirements and expectations that will be placed on you as an entry level (and eventually upper level) employee.

Some factors for you and your career counselor to consider are:
• What are the benefits of working immediately following undergraduate study?
• What level of education you need to enter into your career field?
• What is the value of practical work experience in your career field?
• What are the benefits from moving directly into a graduate program?
• Do your finances allow you to enter into a graduate program?
• Do your personal obligations allow you to enter into a graduate program?
• What programs and specializations do the graduate schools you are considering offer?
• Are you willing to relocate to attend graduate school?
• Are you willing to change your specialization in order to stay local?

Unsure about any of these considerations? Contact the Career Development Center!

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 » Experience vs. Education
 » Timing is Everything

 » Tools for Grad School
 
» Additional Resources

 


Experience vs. Education

Although, many professions do not require graduate degrees for their entry level position, some professions require it for their more advanced positions, making it advantageous to have. However, an advanced degree in some career fields can be a hindrance initially, as you have a high level of education but little or no practical experience. For some careers, a bachelor’s degree or a certificate is all that is needed. Another factor to consider is that a degree does not guarantee employment, and in some fields, such as sales, marketing and journalism, work experience is more valuable than an education. Specifically, elementary education majors will not be hired with a Master’s degree and no work experience. School districts may even pay for your graduate degree as you teach.

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Timing is Everything

In general, students who continue on immediately after receiving their bachelor’s degree are in academic mode and have less problems breaking into a graduate program. These students also tend to have fewer obligations to the outside world since they have remained in school consistently. Last, there are some careers where the entry level position requires a graduate degree, such as doctors, lawyers and librarians.
There are also several advantages to working for a few years as well. Following a few years of professional work experience, some people are in a better position to pursue a graduate program. Skills acquired through work experience can usually be applied to graduate degree studies. Financially, these students may be better off, as they have less debt, and employers often finance higher education. Another advantage is that the application process for a graduate program may be easier due to holding solid work experience in the field. However, this may also lead to becoming attached to a salary, making it difficult for some to return to school.

The decision can be a very difficult and stressful one. Stop by the Career Development Center available for more assistance!

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Tools for Grad School

Hands On Resource

» Going to Work First: Pro’s and Con’s (PDF)
» Going Directly to Grad School: Pro’s and Con’s (PDF)

Visual Resource

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Additional Resources

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