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Weekly Reader 3.14.11

A gap year (s) before grad school?

The timing on this article is a little late for your college grad  but the reasoning is applicable also to graduate school.  So many new college grads, faced with a daunting job market, decide that they might as well immediately enroll in grad school, either for a master’s or a law or business degree.

Dr. Michael Ungar, an author and family therapist,  surveyed 100 young adults in their late 20s about their careers and found that only a small minority were working in the same  careers that they had expected when they graduated high school.

In “Why Young People Shouldn’t Go to College (At Least Right Away)” in Psychology Today, he gives two key reasons:

  • They likely chose a career based on very little information or practical life experience.
  • A quick entry into university can actually close doors to future career opportunities. Not only do young people need time to discover what they like to do, they also need time to survey the growing field of options in an ever-changing career marketplace.

He suggests a “gap year,” between high school and college, as a time for exploration of different careers, temporary employment, and travel.

But what about new college grads?  The same thinking applies to them.  What does an English major do with that degree? Unsure, some grads opt for graduate school in Creative Writing or other related subject, simply because that was their college major.  Perhaps better to seek a job at a publishing company or similar venue and discover whether the industry is a good fit.

Parents worry that adult children won’t go back to school for that master’s or law or business degree.  But graduate school looks like a good deal after a few years at a bottom-rung job.  Maybe that English major will decide on a more marketable economics degree or an MBA instead of creative writing. Perhaps follow the lead of a friend’s daughter who graduated with a liberal arts degree and decided—based on a variety of experiences—that she wanted to be a nurse. Now, now after several years of work at interesting jobs,  she is enrolled in science courses to prepare for graduate nursing school.

Our children will be working for 40 years or so. A few years of work before graduate school can help them truly discover their career goals.

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