For those with their hearts set on certain professional paths, graduate school is an important part of accomplishing your overall goal. However, the road to a graduate degree can be long and taxing, and many finish their undergraduate studies and can find the prospect of embarking on another years-long journey into higher education daunting.
The desire to finish one's educational requirements as quickly as possible can lead some to feel like it's essential to transition from college directly into graduate school. Some students are loath to take time off between undergraduate and graduate school for fear that it can compromise their chances of admission. However; taking time for yourself between college and higher education may not damage your changes of enrolling in a graduate program in the future. In fact, in some cases, it might actually be beneficial in the long run.
Don’t Be Afraid To Take a Break
It's understandable that some prospective graduate students may be afraid of breaking that ever-important academic momentum by forestalling their graduate school application. Others may fear that the shift in lifestyle from student to working adult back to student may be too disruptive. Some may fear that time spent away from their academic field may result in losing academic clout or being out of the loop on some of the most important recent developments in their field of study.
Fortunately, while these concerns are easy to understand, the general consensus is that there is little actual detriment to postponing graduate school. Gerald Bradshaw, college admission consultant, noted that despite many students' fears, the amount of time between graduating and applying to graduate school is irrelevant to most admissions offices. In fact, even students who took time off in the midst of their undergraduate studies aren't disadvantaging themselves. As Bradshaw pointed out, all applicants are assessed using the same criteria, regardless of timeframe.
Time Off From School May Be Beneficial
If you're seriously considering graduate school, it may even be in your best interest to plan to wait a year or two before submitting your application. Bradshaw noted that many programs place a premium on candidates who have accumulated practical work experience, so taking a year or so to work in your field could actually give you a huge advantage. Not only that, but the money saved up can be tremendously helpful.
Another issue many students fail to take into account is burnout. Even the most passionate learners can suffer intellectual fatigue after their undergraduate years. According to Harvard College, taking time between college and graduate school can be useful for recharging batteries and also for reassessing your interests to determine if higher education is still the path you want to take.
About the Author: Laura Morrison is the Web Content Manager for GradSchools.com. She earned an MBA from the Rutgers School of Business in 2010.