We’ve all had that nightmare— you know, the one where you’re arriving to class late for your first exam, frantically trying to grab a seat while also recouping the information you crammed into your overtaxed brain during a late-night study session.
Grappling for information on the periphery of your skill set when reputations are on the line is a familiar feeling for many new pros. For a while, on-the-job training coupled with experience from your undergrad coursework is enough to get through, but at one time or another you start to wonder whether an advanced degree is the best fit.
I always knew that I wanted to pursue an advanced degree and felt that I was falling behind my peers as year after year, more of them made the decision to go back to school. However, after meeting my classmates and professors and diving into my coursework, I’m convinced that three years out of college is a great time to reevaluate grad school. Here’s why:
You’re either about to, or have thought about, making a move
Quarter-life crisis, anyone? No matter who you are or where you landed after undergrad, it’s natural to look at your career three years out and wonder where it’s going and whether or not you want to go with it. For instance, three years gave me a chance to realize that, while I love the business of communication, my passion was streamlining processes to maximize creativity and efficiency. For that reason, I chose to pursue an advanced degree in business rather than communication. Even if you aren’t sure what you want to do, a master’s degree can give you vision during this transitory time, helping you demonstrate proficiency in a particular skill set or open the door for an entire career revolution.
You’re much more budgeted
There’s no doubt that grad school can cost a pretty penny. When I was making my enrollment decision, balancing my budgets and making smart assessments about financial aid helped me view the cost as an investment and not a burden. That type of analysis would not have come quite so easy to me fresh out of college, when gearing up for student loan payments, finding an apartment near my new job and operating as a fully functioning, salaried adult took up most of my time.
You’re still keen on the idea of college
Remember the intrigue and excitement of starting a new class? Or, perhaps, the feeling of elation when you walked across the stage at graduation? That nostalgia is a powerful driver. In fact, I’m convinced that three years removed from undergrad falls right within that sweet spot; you’re experienced enough to make strategic decisions about your career, but nostalgic enough to be open to the notion of recapturing those collegiate feelings. Don’t brush it off as sheer wistfulness— that motivation can be the factor that drives you through your advanced degree and into a career you love.
It’s never too late to go back for an advanced degree. However, three years out of college is a great time to sit back, evaluate your plan (or, let’s be honest, start drafting your plan) and really think long and hard about whether grad school is part of the approach.
Have you given thoughts to your grad school decision? Tell us more in the comments!
Lauren Cascio is an executive for account services at Bohlsen Group, an integrated communications agency in Indianapolis, Ind. She graduated from Purdue University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. A PR pro with a passion for process-driven creativity and operations management, Lauren is currently pursuing her MBA at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn and Twitter (@LaurenCascio).