In a 5-part series “Grad School vs. School of Life,” BlackEnterprise.com explores the pros and cons of pursuing an advanced degree in lieu of the job market. Job seekers, professionals and career experts weigh in to help you decide whether the decision is a good one in the grand scheme of ultimate career advancement and marketability.
To go to grad school, or get a job? That is the question for many graduating college students. The decision is personal and different for everyone. A former graduate student and a college grad who decided to go straight into the workforce both share insight on how they made the choice:
Dwyana Garrett graduated with a master’s degree in special education learning and behavior disabilities from Kentucky State University in December 2012.
“I received my bachelor’s degree in marketing, and then decided to change my career and began working in education,” Garrett says. “After that, I entered into a master’s program that provided me with a teaching certification.”
Garrett is currently working as an assistant teacher in a Functional Mental Disability Unit that caters to grades 6 through 8 and plans to pursue her Ph.D in education in the future.
“I think that having a master’s degree will give me a greater chance of being hired and it makes me marketable [in my industry],” Garrett adds. “The advantages are advancement in my career and greater knowledge in my area of interest.”
After years of pushing herself academically, meeting deadlines and making the grade, University of Florida alum Anne-Marie Kabia decided she needed a break. She also wanted to gain real work experience and exposure in the legal field.
After graduation, Kabia began working full time as a secretary for a family and business law firm. She also writes posts for the firm’s blog and the content for their Website.
“I’m confident that having real work experience will make me more marketable. It’s great to have an education, but employers want to know that you can actually work,” Kabia says. “So many students graduate with a head full of knowledge lacking practical work experience and this can be a great disadvantage.”
There can be an opportunity cost to leave the workforce for a couple of years to earn a graduate degree. Two-year MBA and master’s degree programs can cost anywhere from $80,000 to $120,000. Students should research to see if a higher degree in their field of interest would pay off in the long run. Those with master’s degrees who work either in management, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics earn more, on average, than people with advanced degrees of any level who work in fields like education, sales and media.
Though she didn’t pursue an advanced degree straight out of college, Kabia plans to enroll into law school this year.
“I’ve always dreamed of practicing law, and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else,” Kabia says. “Also in today’s society, a bachelor’s degree is standard and further education is necessary for upward mobility professionally and socially.”
Check out the rest of the “Grad School vs. School of Life” series:
After graduating with a four-year degree, would you rather continue to grad school or get a full-time gig? #SoundOff and follow Jamie on Twitter @JayNHarrison.