Should You Take Time Off Before Graduate School?

Three spiral notebooks with four pencils

So, here’s the thing- graduate school is hard. Surprising, right? This is actually a really important point to think about when planning your graduate school career. When I decided to go to graduate school directly following college, I didn’t really realize how demanding my program would be. Now don’t get me wrong, I still think I made the right choice for myself when I decided not to take a year off. This doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the right move for you. Here are a few things to consider.

Time.

What are your long term goals? This is important to consider when thinking about where you want to be in ten years. Where do you want to be in your career? What about a family? How long is your program? These are all questions that crossed my mind when I was deciding if I wanted to take time off. Some people see taking a few years off as a set back in their life, but for others, it’s a crucial time to prepare for the demands of attaining a degree.

Your application.

Do you feel like your application is as strong as it can be right out of college? Taking time off to work or do research could help to enhance your application. What about travel? Many of my friends in a variety of graduate programs took time off to travel abroad, or even work abroad. A lot of them did things that made them more appealing candidates. It definitely helped them get into their ideal programs!

Is this really what you want? 

One of the most important things to consider is this: Are you sure this is really what you want to do with your life? Many graduate programs take a lot of time and money. It’s important to shadow or work in the industry before entering it so that you can make sure you really want to pursue it. Unfortunately, I know people who changed their mind, but only after already putting time and money into programs. Make sure you are ready to enter a graduate school where you are fully committed and passionate about the career.

 

Overall, it’s important to know yourself and find what works best for you. I found that, for me, taking time off wouldn’t have been as beneficial as it is for other people. Many say that they could not have imagined going right into school. It’s really up to you!

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