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To Go or Not to Go: Her Campus Mizzou’s Guide to Grad School

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Mizzou chapter.


Second semester is soon approaching and upperclassman might be hit with the sudden realization that, sadly, college doesn’t last forever. Yes, this means going out and finding a real job and supporting yourself. Post-graduation can be scary for anyone. The options are endless, and while this can be reassuring, it can also be overwhelming.



Many undergraduates choose the “continuing education” route. Not only is it a safety net in our recovering economy that isn’t always the most generous to recent graduates, but it also hones skills, gives students more experience, helps narrow interests and did we mention the greater pay for having an additional degree? But is graduate school really worth it? For most people that is a personal decision, but Her Campus Mizzou is here to give you the pros, cons and some helpful hints with assistance from two of Mizzou’s very own graduate students.



  1. Graduate school is a great way to gain valuable experience before hitting the career scene. “I had a lot of amateur journalism experience editing for my college paper, but I wanted to professionalize those skills, and grad school is a good safety net to do that in,” says Tess Malone, a current graduate student in Mizzou’s School of Journalism.
  2. Grad school gives you great contacts, and having a graduate degree makes you more marketable. Some jobs might not even look at your resume or application if you haven’t attended grad school. Professors know a lot of really prestigious people and can help lead you in the right direction. The grad school experience is more one-on-one, so you might have a greater opportunity to personally know the people you learn from than you would as an undergraduate.
  3. Grad school helps you narrow your career options and gives you specialization in a particular field. “I decided to go to grad school right after college mainly because I wasn’t sure exactly what kind of career I wanted to pursue yet,” says Matt Salie, a second-year biochemistry graduate student. Matt knew he liked scientific research but wasn’t sure if teaching was also in his future. “Grad school is a great place to learn both research and teaching skills.”



  1. Fear can sometimes make your decision, and this can lead you to more school. But fear of reality is not a reason for going to graduate school. If you’re nervous about the job search and where you will end up but know what kind of job you want, don’t settle for grad school. Nobody starts out with their dream job, so be prepared to work your way up. Putting off the inevitable of being a real adult isn’t an excuse to waste money. Make sure you’re evaluating your reasons before setting your sights on another few years (or more) of school. Don’t be afraid; life isn’t all that bad.
  2. Grad school costs money … a lot of money. If you aren’t prepared for debt on top of the debt that piled up during your undergraduate years, grad school is probably not for you. Mizzou’s tuition is currently $336.50 per credit hour for Missouri residents and $532.30 for nonresidents. Luckily, many graduate programs offer the chance to be a TA for undergraduate courses and to do research. These will help cover that cost.
  3. Grad school will not give you some of the invaluable experiences that come from just graduating college. Sometimes the best experience comes from being on your own, providing for yourself and making mistakes in a new job. You will gain not just work skills but life experience as well. Being in school can take away that sense of complete responsibility because of the safety net of professors to pick up the pieces. Relying on yourself in a beaten down apartment and eating Ramen Noodles while searching for your dream job can help mold you into a better and more grounded person.


Tips for making a decision and the application process

  1. Talk to people. Our biochemistry buff, Matt, didn’t realize Mizzou was his school until the departmental chairman talked to one of Matt’s professors who then talked to Matt. Because of the professor and chairman’s influences, Matt decided to apply. He visited as part of a graduate recruitment weekend and was drawn in by the department. Luckily, the feeling was mutual.
  2. Research schools. There are many websites with rankings and information about different graduate schools. U.S. News evaluates graduate schools around the nation every year. Visiting different program’s websites (check out Mizzou’s!) will give you all the contact information you need in addition to facts about programs, student successes and general requirements.
  3. Focus on your related experience in your resume and study for the GRE. “The biggest factors that schools look at are your research/instrument experience and your GRE scores,” Matt says.  “The GPA doesn’t seem to be too big of a factor. So if [applicants] have any undergrad research experience, or even if they have worked with any scientific instruments in a lab for a class, they should emphasize that in their resume.”
  4. “Look for programs with good funding,” says Tess. “You can go to grad school anytime, so there’s no point going into debt immediately after you get your bachelor’s. Luckily, MU offers amazing assistantships.”


The bottom line

Deciding on whether to go to grad school will vary by major, career field and how much you really like school. If you’ve been hit by a bad case of senioritis, a few more years of school is probably not your best option. Grad school requires more time, it’s harder and you have to really like what you’re doing in order to get something out of it. Some careers, such as those related to science, sometimes require graduate degrees before you’re even qualified for a job. Some, such as journalism, are worth the risk of searching for a great job, regardless of its location, right after graduation and are not worth all the money for grad school. Ultimately the decision is yours. Do your research, and you’ll be on your way either to a great job or to graduate school!


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Allison Goldberg is a junior at the University of Missouri double majoring in strategic communication journalism with an emphasis in PR and marketing and psychology. In Columbia, she is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha women's fraternity executive council and is a Rent the Runway campus rep. During her spare time you can find her shopping, spending time with her friends and family, running outside or reading a fashion magazine. Allison has interned at a social media firm, BCV Evolve in Chicago for the past two summers. She hopes to work for a fashion PR firm in Chicago or New York when she graduates and eventually travel to South America.