Is getting a master's after graduation the best for you? (Image via AICPA)
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Is getting a master's after graduation the best for you? (Image via AICPA)

Should you start your career or get your master’s? This list might help you make the decision.

As the spring semester draws to a close, your time as an undergrad is coming to an end. So what comes next? This list of pros for each side will help you decide on whether to obtain your master’s degree or jump straight into the workforce. 

When your senior year of college rolls around, you might have mixed emotions about your future. You start questioning what you’re going to do with the rest of your life now.

There’s the excitement of reaching a major milestone in life and obtaining the bachelor’s degree which you pulled countless all-nighters for and suffered from an unthinkable number of mental breakdowns over; the unreachable goal that made you question why you even went to college instead of just becoming a stripper.

On the other hand, there is the crippling anxiety of having to perform as a contributing member to society when you choose to follow your desired career path. What if you don’t know enough? What if you don’t get paid enough? And what if someone is better at the job than you are?

The answer to these questions seems simple: I can get my master’s degree! Easy enough, right? Wrong. 

Getting a master’s degree means at least another two years of working even harder than you did for the last four years. Not to mention, it’s two more years of racking up student loans. Even worse, financial aid is harder to come by in grad school. 

You’re left with two options — maybe three, if the stripper option still seems like a good idea. You further your education and prolong your life as a student while you get your master’s, or you can take the first real plunge into adulthood and join the rest of the corporate world.

There are pros and cons on both sides of the equation. Let’s go over a few pros that may make it a little easier to decide on what path you want to walk down next. 

Master’s Pros

1. The Most Appealing: That Cash Flow

Most people want to pursue their degree further for the most obvious reason: the money. Having a master’s degree is pretty much a surefire way of obtaining a higher salary once you do decide to jump into your career.

When it comes to getting a job, a higher-level degree will set you apart from the rest of your fellow applicants; your employer will recognize all the additional all-nighters, mental breakdowns and missed job opportunities you put yourself through so that you may follow this career path and be the best that you could possibly be. 

2. Prolonged Excusability 

If you’re still in college, you are technically still allowed to use the excuse that you’re just a dumb college kid and you don’t know any better. Ride that wave as long as you possibly can, my friend. Once you’re in the workforce, you will officially be adulting 24/7 and you’re going to be blamed for everything for the rest of your life.

3. Learning 

Usually, in college, you won’t get to start learning about relevant topics or issues you actually care about until senior year. The first three years are mostly filled with your core classes and other electives just to meet the base requirements.

This is especially true during freshman year; you’ll spend most of your time in an auditorium filled with 200 other freshmen in the same entry-level college algebra class. However, things change as you progress through the years.

Your classes become smaller and your professor will most likely know your name. Finally, in senior year, you’ll be able to take classes at the deepest and most specialized level pertinent to your chosen major.

Graduate school is the amplified version of this. Learning is always fun when you’re studying something that you’re passionate about; getting your master’s will finally allow you to do this.

Career Pros

1. The Most Appealing (I Repeat): THAT CASH FLOW

Finally, you have that grown-up job. More importantly, you’re finally making that grown-up salary. Instead of adding on student loans — like you probably would have if you had chosen graduate school — you can actually start paying them off.

2. Hands-on Experience

Most of the time, if the particular career you’re pursuing doesn’t require a master’s degree or higher for certification such as a lawyer or doctor, employers and institutions usually prefer actual work experience in the field instead of schooling.

If you jump into the workforce immediately after graduation, you’ll have that experience for at least two years; this will probably grant you the salary either equal to or higher than what you would’ve earned after obtaining your master’s. Except for this way, of course, you started off making at least some kind of grown-up money sooner.

3. Less Stress

Of course, there’s still the stress that comes from working a full-time job, but nothing really compares to the stress of being a college student.

Attending every class, putting in countless hours of study time at all ends of the night and preparing for multiple exams, projects and reports simultaneously all while still presumably working some kind of job to support yourself is no easy feat.

That’s not even mentioning the whole adolescent transitioning into adulthood phase that just plain sucks to go through. With just a career, at least the majority of your stress will be stemming from one place, as opposed to stress bitch-slapping you in the face in every direction you turn. 

While there is really no right or wrong answer because each choice is different for everybody depending on their strengths, weaknesses and preferences, there can be ways that you can combine the best of both worlds. There are plenty of choices for further training too, e.g. if you are a healthcare worker you could apply for radiation therapy program to continue your schooling at the certificate level.

In some careers, employers may offer to pay for you to further your education while still being employed, with the promise of an even higher salary upon completion. How amazing is that?

Likewise, while pursuing your master’s you can take on an internship so that you get the field experience and maybe a little money, and you won’t feel totally out of place after your next graduation. 

Whether you stay in school or dive straight into the working world, best of luck on your quest to find what’s next!

Writer Profile

Sarah Marchan

University of Texas at San Antonio

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