by Indira Pranabudi
Like everything else, college has its time and place. The majority of students in U.S. institutions earn Bachelors degrees in four years, and after those four years are over, the one question that lingers on the mind of soon-to-be-college-graduates is, what next? The two main choices are graduate school and work. Of course, there is also the other option: neither!
The reason most people go to school at all is to get a good job, and thus, the number one thing people do after college is…get a job. Working, however, is very different from school. Furthermore, the prospect of entering real life (i.e. having an ‘actual’ job, paying taxes and rent!) may seem unsettling. It is, however, how life works, and however long you chose to postpone ‘real life’, you will eventually have to start making money for a living.
If you do intend to work straight after graduation, start looking for work early. There’s no better feeling than knowing you already have a job offer waiting for you after you graduate. If you’ve interned during previous summers and enjoyed your internships, perhaps a good way to go is to ask your previous employer for potential full-time offers. Otherwise, your university’s career fair is a good place to start. Of course, different industries start hiring university graduates at different times of the year, so it is a good idea to check with alums in your concentration who graduated before you.
More years of university schooling? For some people, the reason might be: no way! However, graduate school might be a prerequisite for certain professions. Examples of this category are law and medical schools (for lawyers and doctors respectively). Aside from the above reason, people yearning for a life in academia should also pursue graduate degrees in the field they wish to work in. In addition to the above reasons, pursuing graduate school also makes sense if you intend to switch fields (from your undergraduate studies), if you are in pursuit of better job prospects, or simply if you’d like to be an expert in the field.
Although graduate school sounds promising, it is not for everyone. A PhD degree, for example, entails another grueling five years in an academic environment, working on research papers day and night. If you intend to attend graduate school, make sure you really want to do it. Moreover, there is also the downside of sitting in classrooms while working friends are earning money for a living, something which might make life seem slow. Last but not least, it is definitely not a good idea to go to graduate school, simply because ‘entering real life’ seems daunting!
Of course, there is also the other option: take some time off before either work or graduate school to clear your head a bit. Everyone knows that school is tiring; countless hours of sitting in the library and working on assignments. Work is also time consuming, with a 9-5 schedule for most people. As a solution, many people turn to traveling: a way to explore and learn about the world, while at the same time, really digest what you’ve gone through in college. For me personally, traveling is always a pleasure. Think about it this way: even if you’ve had a bad experience traveling somewhere, at least you’ll have stories to tell, right?
So there are the top three options after undergraduate studies. What will you pick?
|photo credit: Zack V. Apiratitham|
Indira Pranabudi is an international student alumna of Green River College and a recent graduate of Brown University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in Computer Science. Indira is also a Student Contributor to U.S. News & World Report.