Considering Graduate School?

If so, then this post might be for you.

For me, it was right around this time of year, December (2001), when I decided to take-the-plunge and pursue a graduate degree.  I was about 4 years into working a job after I had graduated with my bachelors, and the time just felt, right.

[Full disclosure: in my undergrad years 93-97, it never crossed my mind that I would want or need at some point to get a grad degree.  My parents never went to grad school and besides professors and a few staff members I knew, the only people in my circles that had gone to grad school was one friend and my older sister].

Everything about grad school intimidated me.  The application process, trying to get letters of rec, standardized tests (ugg!), deciding which programs to go after … then the avalanche of questions.  What will it be like?  Will getting this degree “pay off” in the long run?  Can I jump back into that student-mode after not being a student for so long?  What about giving up my job to then make less money for several years and probably go into debt as well with loans or whatever?  You get the idea.  I was kinda freaked out.

But then by talking to people, doing lots of research into options, thinking a lot about my goals, getting somewhat organized and then developing a strategy for knocking out all the application “to-do’s” … everything fell into place.  Several months later I resigned from my job and moved from Seattle to Corvallis (Oregon) to start this new adventure.

If you find yourself as a recent graduate (or an undergrad still working on your BA or BS) trying to figure out what’s next and whether graduate education or a certificate or ?? is right for you, I encourage you to simply … do something about it.  Talk to as many people as you can about their graduate school experiences.  Contact programs of interest.  Review the advice found here and in our Resources bucket for grad school.  Explore via LinkedIn and via this first-destination-info where your fellow Huskies have attended.  Check out the excellent UW Graduate School and the new menu of educational options via UW Continuum College.

I encourage you to … ask lots of questions, figure out why you are needing/wanting more education, research what folks do once they complete that degree or cert, and if through your information gathering and reflection all signs point to this being a smart, sound investment, then … go for it.

(Patrick’s final piece of advice: please don’t use grad school as a means to avoid the job market or to avoid making grown-up decisions about your future or career.  there are excellent jobs and careers to be found.  if you need job search and career help, please just ask for some help)

By Patrick Chidsey
Patrick Chidsey Associate Director & Career Coach Patrick Chidsey