“Everyone has a bachelor’s degree now…it’s just like a high school diploma!”

You’ve got to go to grad school to get hired for a decent job after graduation”.

image of female with arms crossed, head tilted up to the right, pondering with large white arrows and question marks, all against a grey background

As the facilitator for the Career Centre Workshop
“The Road to Graduate School” I often discuss further education with students.   These panicked discussions about the tough labour market and graduate school come up frequently when I ask why they are interested in grad school.  Even though there are challenges in finding work for new grads, the data still confirms the value of your undergraduate degree to your future career.

According to an annual survey conducted by The Council of Ontario Universities…

  • 87% of new grads are employed 6 months after graduation
  • The average salary is 42.3K
  • 72% are working in something that closely or somewhat matches their programs of study

http://cou.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/COU-2015-Grad-Survey-Report.pdf

Students are often surprised to hear these stats.

There are some great reasons for pursuing further education after your undergraduate degree:

  • potentially higher salaries and faster career progression
  • becoming a specialist or expert in a given interest area
  • gaining advanced skills like research, lab techniques and writing
  • fulfilling the educational requirements for entry into a regulated profession
  • the prestige and bragging rights that come with achieving a graduate or professional degree

That all sounds pretty good but there are drawbacks as well!  Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but here are some of the downsides, worth considering:

When pursuing further education, you lose the potential income you would have made working (recall that on average, grads do work within 6 months and make decent pay).The high cost of further education, particularly professional programs can also put you into further debt- for some this can be very stressful. Rushing into a program which leads to a career that is not suitable for you can be a waste of time and money – taking the time to find your career interest area and choose the right program is a better idea. Besides, how many times do you want to go to grad school in your life? You’ll need to have thought it through in most cases, to express your interests and motivations in a personal statement for your application.

The process of getting into a program often has significant costs in terms of time and effort on your part. Once accepted, you will need to have high energy, interest and focus to complete your program. After 4 to 5 years of study at the undergraduate level, your energy and cash reserves may not support more school and you may need a break.  No relevant career experience to complement your undergraduate degree? Adding a master’s degree to that without adding relevant experience will not likely improve your chances of finding a job.

It’s OK not to choose further education after your undergrad and with the right planning and action you can still have a successful career!

I went straight into a master’s degree after my undergrad based on the praise and encouragement of my professors without a clear career goal in mind. While I don’t see it as a mistake, I did do a second master’s later in life based more on a thoughtful consideration of all the angles. It has allowed me to enter and progress in a career I love.

So, these are some of many sides to the decision to continue your education after graduating. Consider attending one of our workshops: the Road to Graduate School, Is teaching in Your Future?, Law School Information Session, Medical School Information Session and the workshop on personal statements. Come to the Graduate and Professional Schools Fair (offered each fall) and go to graduate program open houses. Make an appointment to explore all the aspects of this life changing decision with a Career Counsellor.  Here’s our number: 905.828.5451.  We’re here for you!

Have you considered graduate or professional school after your graduate? What questions do you have? Please comment below.

Malou Twynam, Career Counsellor

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