Duke It Out: Grad School?

Grad school or no grad school - that is the question.

[It’s pretty obvious that the average CollegeCandy reader has some very strong opinions. Opinions that she likes to share with everyone on the site. We love a strong woman (unless she happens to be charging at us with her fists raised), so we thought we’d give her a real forum to discuss her thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. Every Friday I’ll be featuring a hot topic (like taking him home for the holidays!) and leaving it up to you, the readers, to duke it out. So, read it and get your debate on in the comments section below!]

The New Year is here, and for those of you graduating in May, it’s time to start thinking about the future (insert groan here). Probably the biggest question you face down as graduation approaches is, what next? You could go out and get a job, bum around your parents’ place for a while, or you could keep the education train rolling with grad school. Applications to Masters programs have gone way up in the last few years (and they’re starting soon) – should you be joining them?

On the “pro” side of the argument, there are a lot of reasons it could be worth it to go to grad. There’s a lot more freedom in graduate study than in undergrad, which means that you get to make your own rules a bit more and you can really immerse yourself in one area of interest instead of taking all those required classes you’re never going to use again. Also, the job market still pretty much sucks (depending on your field, of course) and studies have shown that people who start jobs now (at lower pay) will continue to be paid lower even 10 years down the road – WTF? So in that respect, grad school is a really good way to buy yourself a little time and maybe a better pay check in the future. And ultimately, the truth is that a Masters degree is going to become increasingly the standard for our generation and the ones following us. For our grandparents it was a high school diploma, for our parents, a college degree and for our generation, where soooo many go to college, standing out is going to mean a Masters at least. Consider it an investment in your future.

But there are some distinct “cons” here too. To start with, you finally managed to graduate, the day you’ve been working toward since you were five, and now you’ve got to go in for at least 2 more years?! And while many grad schools are less expensive than undergrad, it’s still not exactly cheap. If you already have student loans or debt piling up, grad school may not be such a helping hand, particularly since there aren’t nearly as many scholarships or grants for grad. And while you don’t have to take those crappy required classes, grad school doesn’t allow for a lot of blow off courses either, which means an awful lot of stress. Speaking of stress, let’s not forget that most grad programs require you to take the GREs – yep, it’s like the SATs all over again. Joy! Oh, and BTW, when I mentioned up there that applications to grad school were way up, some schools have seen jumps of over 30%, so just getting in could be an issue.

Do you see yourself in grad school? Or would you rather eat your backpack than add on more school years? Will you be applying? Have you? Or do you think the whole idea of a Masters degree is just silly? Duke it out!

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