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Considering Graduate School

Many Pomona students and alumni choose to attend graduate or professional school.  Being successful and satisfied with your graduate school experience depends on how much thought you have given to your educational and career goals.

Should you go to graduate school? Should you go on directly after graduation from Pomona or wait a few years? There are no hard and fast rules to deciding about grad school.  But, it is very important to:

  • Be clear about your reasons for going to grad school
  • Understand your personal and career goals related to advanced study
  • Have an accurate picture of the realities of the job market in your chosen field

Talk with Pomona faculty, and students and alumni of target programs, and even prospective employers, in order to hear their perspectives on the advantages of immediate vs. delayed entry and get their input on particular programs.  Understanding the expectations and demands of your chosen field will also help you make the best decision about when to pursue graduate school and what type of program would be most helpful.

Pursuing graduate or professional school deserves careful consideration. Contact the staff in the CDO to discuss your personal and career goals and work on your decisions and application process.  We look forward to working with you in your search and application.

Clarify Career Goals and Reasons for Pursuing Graduate School

The decision about whether or not to attend graduate school is an important one.  In spite of concerns about the economy, graduate study should not be used to delay entry into the working world, but should be clearly related to your career and life goals.  In order to understand your reasons for pursuing a graduate education, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my current and future career goals?  How does graduate school fit into them?
  • What is the job market in my chosen field?  Is a graduate degree required or might it enhance my job and salary prospects?
  • Will it be easier and/or beneficial to enter graduate school in my field directly after college or after gaining additional related experience?
  • How much will graduate school cost, e.g., tuition, room, board, lost/deferred wages?  What about financial aid from the university or outside grants in my field?  Are there loan forgiveness programs in my field?  Research or teaching assistant positions available?  Is there a possibility that a future employer might help pay for my graduate program?

Reasons for going directly on to graduate school:

  • You are accustomed to being a student and have momentum
  • Your study skills are sharp
  • You have few personal and financial obligations
  • Your chosen field requires an advanced degree even for entry-level positions

Reasons for working a few years before going to graduate school:

  • You can better know your career goals by working in the field for a few years
  • Many graduate programs require work experience
  • You bring a broader world view to your studies
  • You have a more mature outlook on school and work
  • Some employers will pay some or all of your graduate school expenses
  • You can gain solid financial footing
  • You can improve your chances for acceptance to graduate programs (especially if you were not the best student in your undergraduate program)
Consider the following questions to determine if you should pursue graduate school:
  • Do you have a clear sense of what you want to pursue?
  • Is an advanced degree needed to enter into your field of interest?
  • Do you want to study a certain discipline just for the love of it?  Do you want to just give it a try?

You may want to reconsider graduate school if any of the following statements are true:

  • You are uncertain about what career to pursue.  “Finding yourself” is a common and acceptable reason for a high school student to pursue college.  But, finding yourself is not a good reason for going to graduate school
  • You feel pressure from family and friends even though you aren’t that interested
  • You are going simply to delay or avoid the job search in a tough economy

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