When it comes to timing the grad school plunge, students often find that it’s beneficial to wait a few years.
Many graduate programs favor applicants with career experience, offering benefits like a GMAT waiver if you meet certain criteria. In addition, since graduate school can be expensive, waiting until your thirties provides the opportunity to gain some financial stability—and even find an employer who might help reimburse part of your tuition. These are all great reasons to postpone graduate school until your thirties, and here are five more.
- You can gain greater insight. Catching your breath after your undergrad years will help you to get a handle on what your needs will be in terms of a grad school program. This includes factors such as the amount of flexibility needed to attend to responsibilities at work and at home. If your employer is rigid, you’ll want a program that offers greater control over how you design your schedule and attend classes—including making the most of online options. If you have a family, the same holds true, since you’ll need all the support you can get to help you fulfill your educational goals.
- You can become more goal-oriented. If you wait until your thirties to attend grad school, you should be able to better align your educational goals with a specific path for your career. Too many individuals apply to grad school without such clarity, which can be a tremendous waste of time and money. If you’re not sure what to do after you complete your undergraduate years, entering the workforce is typically one of the smartest moves you can make. Then, when your career goals are keenly honed, you can better find the program that will be a perfect fit for your needs.
- You can access more support. During the years after undergrad, you’ll get to do many things—including creating a strong network of support among family and friends. These relationships can help you through the tough patches of graduate school and help you achieve your educational goals. Perhaps one of the most important relationships you’ll build is that with your employer—who will probably be supportive of your initiative and may even help cover some of your costs. In fact, some grad students are even able to integrate school work into the job in a way that ends up benefiting both.
- You can learn to be competitive. Getting into graduate school can be difficult, and you’ll enjoy a competitive edge with work experience under your belt. In addition, the competition doesn’t end once you’ve been accepted. Most programs are quite rigorous, and your classmates will be vying for the top spots. Spending some time in the workforce will teach many of the survival skills you’ll need in such a tough environment.
- You can develop essential soft skills. A classroom in any framework is a great place to get an education—but the soft skills you’ll need to thrive in your career are often better learned in the workplace. These include things like effective collaboration, excellent communication, and an array of interpersonal skills you’ll need along the way.
Although heading to grad school straight after college might be tempting, there are many reasons that it might be a better experience in your thirties. Living a little also gives you time to decide where you’d like to go to graduate school. Wherever you’d like to study, you can use tools like MastersPortal, which lets user compare programs around the world, to help find the right fit for you.
Time in the workforce will provide the experience and clarity you need to make the most of your effort—and money—once you’ve been admitted to the program that best suits your needs.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Admissionado.