Donning the convocation cloak and holding your graduation degree in hand…
For recent graduates, it brings back pleasant memories, while for undergrads yet to get to that point it sounds all the more enticing, doesn’t it?
But I’m sure you aren’t yearning for more of it simply because you love(d) the feel of it?
Do you still feel you want to relive this experience and go back to college life to arm yourself with yet another degree to help you gain an edge in your professional life?
Are you still undecided between a prestigious seat in a coveted institution for that master’s degree/ diploma and the wonderful job offer that has come your way?
Think again and read on…
I am listing some important suggestions which you should consider before you take the final call on Masters or Job:
1. Not all careers necessitate a Master’s degree
The most important thing to mull over is whether your field/ industry demands or needs specialisation or a master’s degree. In the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) streams, the higher the qualifications, the fatter the pay packet and greater the respect that one commands.
Courses that genuinely need advanced degrees like research, teaching, technical courses, medicine (and almost all rocket sciences) necessitate a lot of in-depth knowledge and need Master’s and Doctorate degrees to top them. In fact, a post-graduation degree is a pre-requisite or eligibility requirement in most cases here. Surely, you wouldn’t want a plain MBBS doctor treating you for a complicated problem- for that you’ll want to visit a specialist, fully trained and well-versed in her area of specialisation.
On the other hand, creative persons need not keep arming themselves with those degrees without actually beginning to work on their creations. A movie director may or may not possess a professional degree to his credit. In fact, most of the times, it is the freshness in your creativity or the skills and talent you bring to the table that are more sought-after in the industry.
Recommended Read: 8 Benefits of Getting a Master’s Degree
2. A higher degree does not ensure greater competence/performance
A master’s degree cannot ensure you automatic success in a profession, but an internship or work experience in reputed organisations of your industry might! Say, a fresh law graduate learns more nuances of the trade under a senior practising lawyer or in a highly successful law firm than at a law school. The tricks of the trade can only be learnt by working on a variety of cases and seeing the way they should be handled under a senior. She can, of course, supplement her knowledge at a later stage in her career with an advanced degree (if it supports her career advancement), but those early years spent in gaining practical knowledge will pay off later on in her career.
3. Even with higher degrees, you may still have to start at the same salary
Prachi was keen to start working full-time in the advertising industry while interning with a top-notch ad company in her final year of bachelor’s. Her dilemma was fanned by the suggestions of many seniors working in the company. They were of the opinion that their post-grad diplomas/degrees had only added to their financial costs at that time and had made no difference in their starting salaries/placements.
Prachi decided to go ahead with the job offered to her after her internship and is currently drawing a higher salary with a better grasp at the working of the industry than her friend Anoushka who went on to do a PG Diploma in Mass Communication. Anoushka had to begin at the same rung of the ladder even with an advanced degree.
So why go for a year or two of more studying when you can actually take the plunge, learn more on the job and earn better- all at the same time?
4. Often a Master’s degree is a repetition of what you learnt in under-graduation
A Master’s is generally an extension of what you have learnt at the undergrad level. It does tend to get a bit too theoretical to learn in further depth what you have been reading about all along, without any work exposure to complement your learning.
Besides, without an on-the-job-experience, you’ll not have gained any additional perspectives on those topics. To take learning/ knowledge to higher levels, one needs a new outlook or a different perception which can only be attained through practical applications.
5. Post-graduation costs are often too high
Many universities offering professional courses in India have exorbitant course fees. Additionally, if you’re considering studying abroad, it will require huge investments like travel and accommodation, apart from the university fee. So, a decision to take up the master’s degree must always be preceded by comparison on the returns on this investment as mostly these are paid for through loans. If you really want that post-grad degree, a fair suggestion would be to work a few years and save a substantial amount, which could sail you smoothly through the university costs.
Recommended Read: 9 Prestigious Scholarships for Indian Students to Study Abroad
6. Post-graduation may take you further down a wrong career path
Working in the industry for some time shall make you clearer about your career goals and whether you like the industry or not. Sometimes after working in an industry for a few months, one might not find its environment appealing or working hours suitable at all. Or maybe, you may feel like a misfit there.
Sneha chose Law as a career and went on for her LLM right after her LLB degree. After the postgrad degree when she finally started practising under a senior lawyer, a few visits to the courts and the long waiting hours shattered her mental picture of the profession and she felt this was not her dream career. Now she is looking to major in another stream to be able to pursue a new career. To avoid such a waste of time, money and skills, its best to test your ability and compatibility in any career first.
Recommended Read: I Am Stuck In A Wrong Career. What Should I Do?
7. It’s not your degree/score that matters in the corporate world
It’s how you put your knowledge and skills to work that finally matters. Sometimes even an academically bright student may not fare well in the industry for a lack of practical skills and expertise while an average student may excel at it. A degree needs to be complemented well with skills and techniques to perform well in the corporate world. Quite often some short-term courses are a better choice as they focus on the exact skills and expertise required for a particular job.
8. It’s time to put your existing learning to practical use
You’ve been studying for too long now, almost 17 years of your life. Often you’ve wondered what use those theorems and formulae will be of in life. It’s time now to test that education and learning and put it to better use. A practical application will only reinforce your connectivity with studies when you go back to them (if you choose to) and make you grasp things better and correlate your on-the-job experience with what you’re taught. If you feel you can do a better job than your more academically qualified colleague, then it’s your duty to show him and the world that calibre and potential can never be limited by fancy titles and degrees.
The point here is not whether or not to pursue a Master’s degree- the big question here is to decide “when”. So unless you’re into those careers that really demand advanced studies, take a break before you pitch for your Master’s. It would be a great move to consult a career counsellor at this stage who can guide you according to your chosen career stream and available options.
And as far as going back to college is concerned, you can always do that later when the time is right.
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