Grad School: Should I Go Now or Wait?

Posted on April 9, 2015

Every other month, we do large conference calls with our Intern Queen Network. The students in our network are super ambitious and always providing us with content suggestions. After our last call, we had several requests for grad school content. Should they go? Should they wait? Should they work first? Should they take a “gap year” off? Personally, I didn’t attend grad school. For the sake of incorporating opinions and advice from people who DID go to grad school, I reached out to a few students who participated in our Intern Queen Network when they were in college and asked them for their advice. Of course, we got three very different perspectives from three students with very different focuses. Hopefully, you can take something away from their unique perspectives. Here’s what they had to say:

 

Lots of students ask if they should go to grad school directly after graduation or wait a “gap” year and then attend. Other students ask if they should go into the work world and then go grad school. What do you recommend based on your experience?

 

Marissa Luna, who attended California State University, Chico for undergrad and is now attending for grad school says, “I recommend going to grad school as soon as possible. Think of it as a routine. Once you break that routine, it becomes harder to get back into it. A common thought people have is that they’ll find a job with a company who will pay for them to get their masters. This is actually harder to come by than you may think. Usually you have to have a particular type of job within a company in order for them to consider your value to the company, or you may need to work there for a while to gain that type of recognition. Also, finding your dream job right after college might not work out as you had initially planned. Almost all of my friends have changed jobs since we graduated with our Bachelor’s degrees, which was less than 2 years ago. However, a few people in my program are getting their masters degrees paid for by their employer. I want to point out that these people work 9-5, go to class at night, and are also married with children. I have so much respect for them! But, you can imagine that they have to be strategic with their time, as they have a lot of things that require their attention. It’s also fairly common for these students to take classes one at a time, and tend to graduate after 4 or more years. To put this into perspective, most grad programs are 2 years.”

Lauren Nevidomsky, who attended Binghamton for undergrad and is now attending University of Virginia Law School says, whether you should take time off or attend right after finishing your undergraduate degree, is likely a toss-up. For the people that know that they have wanted to be a lawyer for as long as they can remember, then waiting a few years likely does not make much sense. If you were able to achieve the GPA needed and achieve the LSAT score you needed to attend your dream school, all while in undergrad, then attending law school right away can be the best option. I, for instance, graduated a semester early, so I had 8 months in between undergrad and law school. It was the perfect amount of time for me to de-compress, but I know that if I would have waited much longer, I likely would not have went back to law school.
On the other hand, there are people in law school who have families and/or are in their mid-to-late twenties or early thirties. A lot of them wanted to experience the real world, not only to make some money before law school, but to have some valuable experience that would translate well in interviews and then hopefully in their careers as lawyers.  Others just didn’t know that they wanted to be lawyers until later on in life. This real world experience is definitely a “plus-factor” on the law school application, but is not necessary by any means to get into the school you want if you have the necessary GPA and LSAT for the schools you seek to attend.
In sum, choosing when to go to law school is a very personal decision. You should only go when you feel it is right and at a time you know you can handle a grueling three years. If you are up to the challenge right after finishing your Bachelors, then go straight through! If not, getting some real world experience and putting some distance between you and schooling can be just what you personally need to be successful in an extremely hard course of study.

Michael Kenny, who attended San Diego State for undergrad and just graduated a part-time business school program at The University of Southern California says, “Yes, you should take time and work to get into the programs you want to get into. Working first gives you perspective on what you’ll be learning in business school. If I went to business school directly out of college, I would have learned a lot of technical skills, but I don’t think I would have gained half as much because I wasn’t thinking about how to apply the skills I would have been learning. When I was in b-school, I was able to say, Oh – this is how what I’m learning relates to the working world. I was actually working while going to business school which was great because I was able to apply what I was learning to what I was doing – immediately. I think this was better than taking time off from work, learning it all, and then going back to work.”

 

For more information on how to succeed after college, read my book, Welcome to the Real World.


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