Grad School: To Go, or Not To Go?

College: Four years of fun. Four years of freedom. Four years of learning and enlightenment. And four years of all-nighters, Bible-sized textbooks, essays, tears, loneliness and sleep deprivation&#039 only to lead to more college?

Such is the experience of an undergraduate looking to pursue a Master&#039s degree and beyond. The question is: Is it worth it?

&#039When you&#039re not exactly sure what you want to do with your life, to be able to get into an academic situation that&#039s very career-oriented is comforting because you have some kind of direction now,&#039 said Annie Cooke, 22, a graduate student in broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Rumit Pancholi, 22, had a lot of direction in his life as a senior English major last year. He knew exactly what he wanted to do&#039keep studying poetry&#039so he followed his dreams and applied for the very prestigious Creative Writing Program at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. There were ten spots available total and only five in poetry.

And he got in.

He should be celebrating – basking in the glory of a few more years in school, hitting the bars nightly and spending his weekends in bed with candy bars and season one of 24. Yet, he is openly unhappy with his life as a grad student in a place far from his Maryland home.

&#039Everything is waning. I spend hours, days, weeks in my room/apartment, unhappy and disoriented, sleeping, eating sporadically, eating hurriedly, daydreaming, sighing, and cleaning. I don’t think I’d be a good househusband,&#039 he wrote on a recent Facebook note.

Despite his occasional personal ranting, Pancholi listed several pros regarding the choice to pursue a Master&#039s degree: the chance for students to build more intimate relationships with professors and even to play the role of the professor and teach younger students what they have learned.

He didn&#039t offer any cons, saying, &#039It depends on the program.&#039

But, for all of you seniors splitting your time between savoring your last minutes of freedom and wondering where you are going next, here are a few things to consider when grad school is on your mind:

Reasons to Go to Grad School:

1) You don&#039t have to get a job and pay back loans from your undergrad years just yet.
2) You can make more money (assuming you can find a job after graduation).
3) You can get closer to professionals and experienced faculty.
4) You can still sorta live the life of a college student.
5) You can get teaching experience.
6) You can focus on a particular field and master it.
7) You can tell people you are a grad student and they will think you&#039re smart.
8) You need the graduate degree to get the job you are passionate about.

Reasons to Avoid Grad School:

1) It is often very expensive.
2) There is a lot more work than undergrad (and a lot more people doing it).
3) You may not have time to pursue other interests (like having fun).
4) Smaller programs can be very competitive.
5) The environment is stressful and emotionally draining at times.
6) Many fields value work experience over another academic degree.

Up next: The ins and outs of the GRE. Yikes!

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