Undergraduate students hear a lot of conflicting advice when it comes to plotting their course following graduation. Will grad school be worth the investment, or would it be better to secure a professional position?
Some stats reveal that masters-level graduates can earn up to 25% more than their undergraduate colleagues. This may be because graduate school provides not only academic enrichment, but also professional development, opportunities for networking, and the chance to build a CV. On the other hand, one doesn’t have to search far to find impressive professionals who succeeded in their field without a master’s degree. They jumped into the workforce early, and built targeted skills through experience.
Ultimately, what you decide to do after your undergraduate degree depends on a combination of personal preference and well-defined career goals.
Choosing to Work
For some students, the immense feeling of pride in completing an undergraduate degree can spark a desire to take on the next big challenge, out there in the world. Students who attend an American university in Rome and take part in an internship, may find that they develop a taste for the professional path – and want to launch directly into their career following graduation. And there are wonderful benefits to joining the workforce early. For one, you can begin building a professional network early in life, gaining insight from mentors and working to find your own particular niche.
It should be noted though, that in some careers an advanced degree may be required for pay raises and promotions – it’s important to investigate how advancement works in the field you’d like to pursue.
Choosing Grad School
Attending graduate school just out of college can be great for students who performed well during their undergraduate degree, and are inspired to deepen their understanding of a specific subject area. The additional expertise and skills one gains through graduate work can lead to higher level, better paid positions following graduation. Some career paths require advanced degrees, so mapping out your goals early on will help avoid frustration or barriers down the road.
Students should remember though, that the unfocussed pursuit of a graduate degree can sometimes result in frustration and lost opportunities. Graduate school is not a place in which to avoid defining your long-term professional goals! Whether you choose graduate studies or the workforce, having a well-conceived strategy is crucial.
Some ambitious students will choose to work and pursue grad school at the same time. This may sound like a lot to handle, but students who take this approach often reap double the rewards. Rather than taking on a paid position, some students elect to volunteer part-time, working around their study schedule. If you’ve chosen to study abroad in Italy, or are pursuing your degree at an American college in Rome, there are particularly fruitful opportunities to volunteer on campus and throughout the city.
Use your university’s resources to scout out volunteer opportunities. This is a great way to build bonds in the community, and network with people who may help you with your career during or after graduate school. John Cabot University offers many volunteer opportunities with organizations such as Grassroots, Italy Reads, and STAND.
Tell us about your decision to attend grad school or join the workforce!