According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, in the US, the answer is simple – seems like 6 months to a hundred!
But seriously, how do you time your Masters? It is clear that 20 somethings dominate the classrooms. That’s the natural progression of items to check off in ones’ life anyway. Undergraduate – Done. Masters – Next. But if you look close enough, the population is a mix of various students with varying manufacturing dates.
In all, Masters timings can be classified in two categories.
A. Fresh out of undergrad – Younger than 25
B. With job experience – Older than 25
Each category has its own set of good reasons to follow. While not advocating either, we will lay down the possible advantages in pursuing your MS before or after your legal drinking age.
A. MS after Undergrad
Course work memory generally tends to have a short half life. Most students take the advantage of the momentum of being in the education system, to enroll in an MS program right after college. And why not? You have a fair idea of your choice of specialization. You are in the company of peers with similar intentions. Your parents are still willing to support your endeavors, at least some are. And you really don’t need to go out and buy yourself grown up office clothes. Purani jeans will do just fine for two more years!
In reality, there are some serious advantages of getting an MS after college.
Lack of other responsibilities
Without the added, and more mature, responsibilities, you are more likely to be able to devote all your time towards qualifying your Masters. MS courses are more advanced, requiring complete focus on assignments, examinations, projects and even internships. Remember the all-nighters? Cramming up in the two days before your college exams? Well an MS schedule can get grueling enough to demand similar stamina. If you are able to manage the load, you can even work towards taking up extra credits, reducing costs by finishing your MS degree faster. And if you are older and wiser with a job, or family to take care of, we can be quite sure that your lights will be out by sunset each day!
In the company of educators and peers
Your undergraduate environment can provide a pool of experienced individuals who can help you choose your most suited MS specialization (Read How to select the right MS specialization?). You will have access to not just highly qualified professors who can tell you a thing or two about what to expect during your Masters, you can even get a few of the pre-requisites out of the way. Preparing for GRE/GMAT or scouring the internet for information, on applications, can become less painful while working together with your peers.
Easy to network
Being right out of college, keeps your undergraduate associations fresh. If you plan your moves right, your network of past students and alumni can help you get a personalized point of view about MS specializations and Universities. Most people are happy to oblige and share their experiences leaving you to explore with all kinds of pertinent information.
Early to degree, early to rise
If you are able to get a head start in your career, its growth may also be accelerated. The difference in median salaries between a Bachelors and a Masters graduate, based on data from US Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2009-2011 and courtesy of Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce, shows a significant difference in every field. With a Masters degree to begin with, you will most likely be inducted at a higher grade, and pay scale, as compared to Bachelor degree holders.
Source: MSU Careers
All convincing arguments professing the importance of an early entry into the world of Graduate school, for Masters. However there are a few plus points to be considered for a late entry, after a hiatus in the world of education.
B. MS after job experience
Yes, there are many individuals filling up the student body, in graduate school, after years of work experience. Though they may stand out a bit at college parties, looking like they are there to chaperone the very young adults, there are very good reasons why some people choose to get an MS later in life. Let us explore why you could choose to pursue an MS after a hiatus.
Work experience adds wisdom
Having been in the job world, already, gives you a better understanding of the job market. Especially in terms of what kind of specialization backgrounds, and what skills, are companies looking for in a candidate. So instead of going to school ‘coz that’s the next thing to do,you are able to customize your qualifications to your needs.
You are financially all set
Masters, and especially MBA, degree courses can put a dent on your finances (Read Cost of getting a degree abroad). If you plan it quite right, you can work to save for your education, thereby reducing costs on student loans. That way you can even schedule your course work such that you don’t have to take up five different campus jobs to sustain yourself. You can focus on completing your degree asap and get going with your career.
Useful for a Career Change
Many individuals choose to go back to school to change the course of their career. While it is not essential that you get a degree to switch, it certainly helps as an evidence of training in a resume otherwise lacking in relevant skills.
Get your company to sponsor
It is common to find company sponsored students at some of the most elite schools around the world. If your organization finds your contribution precious enough, and is able to recognize your potential for bigger better things, they may be willing to pay for your advanced degree. In turn they might require you to work out a contract for not running away once the degree is done. But that’s fair, right? You get to add hefty lines on your resume, get paid to do so and also keep your job! In other words, have your cake, eat it and store some for the day you graduate!
So you see, there are enough reasons to justify your choice of when to pursue your Masters degree. It is not really the age that is the important factor, rather the intent of getting that degree. Evaluate your situation and decide what is best for you.
Now is good, so is later!
Meanwhile keep this goldmine, for all MS related information, bookmarked for whenever you make up your mind.