Guest post kindly submitted by Sofia Rasmussen
With that undergraduate degree in your hand, it is time to make some serious decisions about your future. If you have a deep passion for your field of study, you may be thinking about moving on to graduate school and working towards a Master’s or PhD. On the other hand, you may also have considerable college debt to work off and a real need to find a job before starting a family a few years down the road.
Rather than feeling torn between graduate studies and the job hunt, approach the matter practically. Set several ground rules for your future plans, and find out what you truly need. Whether you’re planning to obtain your PhD degree online or through a traditional program, graduate school will demand that you put in a considerable amount of effort to gain a deep understanding of a subject through research that will test your passion to the limits. On the other hand, a new career typically means long hours and little pay, but you’ll quickly gain valuable experience that you can monetize on after only a few years. Both paths can lead to your dream life, but make sure you carefully evaluate which path is right for you.
Know Your Field
Despite the fact that new PhDs are battling for jobs within academia, a growing number of private sectors are placing a high price tag on job candidates with a PhD, especially in science and engineering fields.
Technical fields offer far more job opportunities than the humanities. If your degree is in the computer science or engineering school, you not only will be able to find a job more quickly than a humanities major, you will also probably start off making significantly more money. This can be a big bonus, especially when paying off debt or starting a new family, so the job hunt may be a more favorable path. Many companies will even pay for further training in tech fields later on in your life.
Business degrees fall somewhere between the technical and fine arts fields. Businesses love to see an undergraduate degree, but they are becoming so common you may at least want to aim for a Masters if you have long-term management plans.
Graduate School Is Harder Than You Think
A Master’s or PhD in a variety of fields will not only require you to study hard — and we mean hard — but you’ll also be expected to carry out research, grade papers, teach lower-level courses, and participate in seminars. Don’t expect to have too much time to party. You may very well work fewer hours at a start-up.
Graduate education can cost you upwards of $50,000 per year, particularly if you’re going for a degree in medicine, law, or business. (Admittedly, several programs, especially PhDs in the sciences, will pay you to study and research with them.) If this is out of the question for you right now, your decision is an easy one. If you think this is doable, search for grants, scholarships, and favorable loans to make the price tag work. Alternatively, you could save up now by working and apply to school in a few years.
Hop online and get started looking no matter what your plans are. With the rising prevalence of online degrees, you may be able to find graduate level courses available (especially business courses) that do not require you to relocate and are much easier on the wallet. Of course, if you really can’t make a choice, don’t be afraid to start sending out applications to both jobs and further degrees, so see what type of responses you receive for either one.