By Karen Lomas
So many graduates who have or are about to complete their bachelor degree, honour’s degree or double degree want to know when to start postgraduate study. The question is around whether or not to study a postgraduate qualification immediately after completing a degree, or working for a few years first.
Just to make it clear, I’m not advocating postgraduate study for all. A large proportion of students who graduate with an undergraduate degree will transition directly into employment and never complete another formal study. That said, as a career practitioner I recommend ‘life-long learning’. We do need to keep up-skilling, especially as technological advances make some roles and skills obsolete. So postgraduate study can be beneficial at some time in your career.
Every student is different and by the time you reach the final year of your undergraduate degree program (regardless of length), you will feel differently about your experience.
- have been invited into a honour’s year program by virtue of your grades
- be excited about an area of study and keen to continue some research or coursework study at a higher level
- be committed to a required program of study; for example, in order to gain registration as a psychologist or physiotherapist
- be fatigued by full-time learning
- need to or be eager to get into the workforce
- be chasing a place in a graduate program
- be ambivalent or confused by the choices available to them.
You may not have ever considered further study beyond your first higher education course, after completing compulsory education. Some of your friends may be talking about applying for a place and starting a graduate program, a master’s degree, graduate diploma, or other, and this can be unsettling. You might be torn between the exciting prospect of gaining meaningful employment and earning a ‘proper’ salary.
Some of the benefits include the valuable professional standing and networking that can come from completing another degree. A lot depends upon circumstances, and this can be the consideration of earning a salary that might help you to find your own accommodation.
It is really tempting to study in order to have a competitive edge over other job applicants, but there is a cost implication to graduate study and this needs to be taken into account.
Alternatively, you may feel that while you’re in a good routine of full-time study, you’d prefer to continue to maintain that momentum. You may be motivated by a lecturer who has become a mentor. Of course, it could be that you embarked upon your undergraduate study with the deliberate intention of moving straight through into a law Juris Doctor, or medicine program.
I am not for one moment suggesting that it is essential to embark upon postgraduate study, however it may be something you might be keen to explore.
Karen is a career coach specialising in early career exploration. This article is an edited excerpt of a longer blog post, published with permission — you can read the full version here.
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