If you are like most college students, school is all you’ve ever known. You went straight from day care to preschool to K-12 to university, and now that you are faced with the prospect of leaving school and entering the real world — well, you feel much more secure with the idea of applying to grad school.
It is possible to perpetually delay your entry into the job market, but doing so is expensive and ultimately detrimental. Grad school can be beneficial, but only if you are certain that what you study will positively impact your career, which means you must spend some time in the real world to develop your career before you return to school.
Here are a few good reasons you should delay grad school and jump feet-first into the real world after you graduate from college.
1. Job Experience Is Valuable
Graduate academic credentials are valuable; they prove that you have committed to a field and advanced your knowledge and skills within that field. However, job experience is equally advantageous, especially to employers.
At the very least, a career history can demonstrate that you are responsible enough to hold down employment. Often, on-the-job experience also provides familiarity with common industry tools and actions that you likely won’t gain in an academic setting.
In fact, job experience is valuable not just to your future career but also to your graduate school prospects. Many grad programs look more favorably on applicants who have spent some time in the real world — some even require a year or two of job experience for application. Thus, is you are using your resume as an excuse to avoid the real world, you should reconsider.
2. Your Dreams Will Change
As you navigate life, your interests, your passions and your dreams will transform. Eventually, they won’t look anything like what you like and look forward to right now.
For example, your current goal might be to start your own business, but after a few years of trying, you might lust after a stable, well-paying career as an upper-level employee. Experience in the real world, doing what you thought you would enjoy, will undoubtedly alter what you hope to accomplish in your career.
If you dive straight into graduate school after college, you don’t allow your dreams time to mature. Instead, you sink yourself deeper into a career you might not actually enjoy.
Thus, it is a good idea to take a break from school, allow your dreams to develop in the real world, and return to a graduate program that will apply to a more practical career plan.
3. Academic Burnout Is Real
Though it is not present in the most recent edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, most mental health experts officially classify burnout as a disease.
Burnout is characterized by mental or physical collapse — symptoms include chronic fatigue, emotional detachment, loss of appetite, irritability and lack of productivity — due to overwork and overstress. Academic environments are wracked with burnout because students push themselves too hard for too long in an attempt to succeed in their fields of study.
The only way to prevent academic burnout is to give yourself sufficient time away from typical sources of stress. In cases of academic burnout, this means stepping away from your studies to focus on other endeavors.
It is possible to develop a balance between grad school and mental health but giving yourself time to recover after graduation is key. Then, you can earn your MBA on your own time without worrying about your mental health.
4. Grad School Is Expensive
If you are like most college grads, you are already in debt to an incomprehensible degree. You might believe that adding a few hundreds of thousands in grad school costs onto your debt won’t make much difference, but in truth, it could mean the difference between paying off student loans for a few years and continuing to make payments for the rest of your life.
Entering the real world won’t make graduate school any more affordable, but it will allow you to pay down some of your existing loans and begin saving for your next adventure in academics. Additionally, because time in the real world will help you identify a field of study that will impact your career, you can avoid wasting money on an unrelated, unbeneficial program.
Finally, you might find employment at an organization willing to sponsor your advanced education, cutting or eliminating education-related costs altogether.
There is no reason to reject graduate school altogether; it is undeniably beneficial for certain career paths. However, giving yourself time to mature in the real world before entering a graduate program with ensure that you find the most success possible from your advanced studies.