Everyone gets to that point in their college experience where they ask themselves if they should consider going to grad school. Then follows the extensive list of things to consider along the way everyone inevitably asks, is it worth it? For everyone out there wondering if they should consider going to grad school, we talked to Michelle Kyriakides, executive director at the Center for Career Design and Development. She was able to answer questions and give some helpful advice.
Where do I start?
Kyriakides advises to start by considering the career you’re pursuing and whether or not grad school wil be a meaningful contribution to that field. Here’s what to think about:
The positives: “It’s an additional credential,” said Kyriakides, “that sets you apart from other candidates when you’re applying for jobs and other opportunities.” Not only will it improve your resume and improve your chances of getting a good job, but you’ll also have more knowledge that can benefit you in the long run. “You’re gaining additional knowledge, you’re learning how to solve problems and think about problems in different ways, so it does make you a better employee.”
The negatives: The big decision comes when you start considering how money plays into everything. Kyriakides recommends not making this decision lightly because of the cost. She says it’s best to talk to your faculty members and advisors about what is best for your specific field of study. For some career paths, it’s best to go to grad school immediately. However, for others, it may be better to get work experience first.
Work experience first? You can do that?
Yes! Kyriakides said that “it does help in some instances to put it off” and talked about her own experiences. She graduated with a Bachelors in communications and then a Masters in television and film studies and talked about her experience with attending grad school immediately after graduation. “They called a group of us the undergrad grads,” she said, “because we hadn’t actually worked in the industry full time.”
However, once she graduated and started working, she realized that she wanted to change career paths. She then went to grad school again, but noticed how different the experience was, having some work experience under her belt. “I realized how much those ccouple years of work expereience really helped me gain a better understanding,” she said, “and learn more in school because I had that basis in real world application.” Depending on your situation and career path, it might be a good idea to go out into the workforce first and then determine if grad school is something you want to pursue.
I think grad school might be fore me. What do I do now?
Kyriakides said that what you need to start looking for when considering different graduate programs is the faculty, what they have done and what they are currently doing. She said it will be most beneficial to attend a school with faculty that is studying and researching what you’re specifically interested in. Another important thing to look for is what the alumni are doing. “I would strongly recommend looking into what the support structures [are] for employment after graduation,” she said. “What are the companies that are recruiting graduates? What are the outcomes?”
She also talked about her own experience with finding work after graduating with her Masters. “It wasn’t so much that I had a Masters degree, it was where I had it from,” she said. Kyriakides received her Masters from Syracuse University and she said that having that name on her resume is what really set her apart. So, when considering grad school, it’s important to put emphasis on where you will be going. She advises that it’s most beneficial to get a Masters from a highly acclaimed program and that is what will set you apart when applying for jobs.
OK, but I’m still unsure of if I should actually go or not.
That’s okay. “The best advice is if you’re not sure, then hold off,” said Kyriakides. She said that if you’re not one hundred percent sure that grad school is what you want to do, you can always wait. Sometimes, it’s even better in the long run to go and get some work experience first and then you may decide grad school is something you want to do.
“Explore what your interests are,” said Kyriakides, “the same way you did as you thought about what you were going to major in.” Thinking about the future can be stressful, but just take a moment to think about what you want to do in your career and if grad school is something that will meaningfully contribute to that. Remember, you’re not alone! The Career Center has many resources to help you figure out what is best for your including career counseling, programming, events and facilitating connections. Just go to your Hofstra Portal to schedule an appointment.