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  1. #1
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    Mar. 14, 2007
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    Default Graduate School...time off beforehand?

    OK...love off topic days, but rarely have an off topic question!

    However..daughter will be graduating in May...and has applications in for some scholarships/some internships..but as far as grad school is aware she isn't 100% sure yet of her direction with her degree---so has decided that in the option of enrolling in grad school just to 'go' isn't the best choice this first year as far as financially------

    Can any of you who've 'been there' shed some light on your experiences with 'intending' to further your education, but taking say, a year off? Did it benefit you? Did you find 'HOW' you spent that year to be important later in your process in applications?

    TIA!
    ayrabz
    "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
    --Jimmy Buffett



  2. #2
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    Jul. 26, 2007
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    VA
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    Default

    I took "several" years off to work and raise a family and started my graduate degree this year. If I was graduating now I'd probably to just head to grad school and hope to ride out a bad job market while building a resume that elevates me from other candidates.

    While I don't think it is such a big deal to wait, sometimes life has a way of interfering with those plans to only take a year off. Once you get locked into a job, bills etc then graduate school starts to look impossible to manage.



  3. #3
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    Mar. 14, 2007
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    Default

    thanks Pandora...and kudos to you for GOING for it 'later'.
    I know I couldn't muster up the work to go back 'later' myself!
    This kid loves and thrives on academia, so, I don't see it as something she'd postpone more than a year...I just thought it would be neat to read from those who DID take that one year off, and how they felt it affected that process? I think its more that she's aware she's not fully decided on that advanced degree's direction and didn't want to get the process started without that awareness.
    ayrabz
    "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
    --Jimmy Buffett



  4. #4
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    Nov. 11, 2008
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    363

    Default

    I took a year off because I had pretty much decided to switch what I was studying for graduate school (from Biochemistry to Anthropology). I worked a horrible job that barely paid my bills and made me sick, then got a better job until I went back to school. I did live at home with my parents during this time.

    Was out one school year. Don't think it had any impact on my applications, I don't even remember being asked why I wasn't in school.



  5. #5
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    Jan. 19, 2001
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    MT
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    Default

    I took a year off between finishing undergrad & starting grad school - I did so partially because I needed intensive language training to get in to grad school, but I think a (productive) break is a VERY smart thing to do. And yes, how I spent that year was critical to my applications. I think many fields, particularly highly competitive ones, reflect that - taking time off & having a related job or internship can definitely boost your application.

    If she's not 100% committed to a path, it's absolutely the best idea to take some time off. I also think generally having some time to decompress from academia is a good thing - I am so glad I didn't have the option of going straight from undergrad to the PhD, I needed that break & didn't really realize how much I needed it 'til I got to grad school!



  6. #6
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    Mar. 6, 2002
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    Default

    I would strongly recommend taking at least a year off. I felt like I had to go to grad school right after college. I ended up in a Master's program in Counselor Education, focusing on College Student Administration. I left after the first year, realizing that it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life and not wanting to incur any more student loan debt. Honestly, I think what I really wanted at the time was to stay in school and put off becoming a "real" grownup for a few more years. I saw lots of people around me worrying about getting jobs, and grad school was a way to avoid it. I just couldn't stomach the idea of some office job.

    Now, I have an office job that I love. It's not at all what I thought I would end up doing, but I can't imagine doing anything else. Working for The Man isn't so bad, I get plenty of vacation time (that I can use to go to horse shows), good benefits, and a fairly flexible schedule.

    I think it's pretty common now to go back to grad school, full or part time, after working. Many employers will actually pay for it, in the interest of retaining talented employees and improving their workforce. If I want to go back to grad school, The Man will even pay for it.

    Tell her to take a year, make sure it's what she really wants to do, and not to stress about the issue.
    Amateur rider, professional braider.
    ----
    Save a life, adopt a pet.



  7. #7
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    Nov. 29, 2004
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    189

    Default Very glad I took time off

    I took two years off prior to law school. I'm in my first year now. I worked from graduation from undergrad until one month before I left for school. It was in a career (as much as one has that in two years) that I enjoyed, too. Not just a job to pay the bills.

    I knew I wanted to go to grad school when I started work, but the time in the "real world" was important. I grew up, I focused my goals, reassessed why I was going to grad school. So when I applied, I knew it was what I wanted - not just "because it's there."

    I think it helps me immensely now that I am in school. I am more focused and dedicated. The work load is not intimidating to me. Overall, I know I am more invested in this choice having left a life, job, and home I created for myself for this new path.

    Good luck to your daughter.



  8. #8
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    Apr. 11, 2002
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    I took a year off before going to grad school and it ended up being a very good decision.

    I graduated in 2009 with a degree in Economics, and I had a hard time finding a job right out of college. I moved back in with my parents, worked at Starbucks for a bit, then found a temp job that lasted 9 months. After that temp job, I volunteered in Israel for a month with rescue horses. After that volunteer program, I started grad school.

    Overall, it was quite beneficial. I was exhausted mentally after 4 years of undergrad, and I knew I couldn't do grad school immediately afterwards. However, I knew that I would go to grad school so I could finally study what I loved (accounting!) and become eligible to sit for the CPA exam. Having the temp job really helped- I lucked out and was able to do some fun accounting stuff so now I can relate to what's being taught in the classroom. On the downside, it was a hard transition from working 40 hours a week to going to class and studying all the time.

    FWIW, some grad schools and programs will look for work experience and others won't. For accounting, the work experience doesn't matter, as a Masters of Accounting is basically considered a 5th year of undergrad and many people won't take a year off between undergraduate and graduate.



  9. #9
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    Oct. 27, 2009
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    Default

    I went basically straight from my undergrad into grad school, I had about 5 months off. I wish I had taken a full year off. While I'm doing okay this year (my first year of grad school) I'm a little burned out on school.

    I think I'd suggest to people to take a year off, find a good job/internship in the field and do that for a while before starting school again.
    Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever



  10. #10
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    Jan. 25, 2009
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    Default

    I'm in education, so taking a few years between is pretty normal. I taught for 6 years, then began my master's work while still teaching full time and coaching. DH began a year later, also balancing teaching and coaching. It's not easy, but in our field many graduate programs are set up specifically for those who work full time.
    A proud friend of bar.ka.



  11. #11
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    Jun. 19, 2009
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    I took a year off. It was perfect! My last 2 semesters of undergrad I was feeling serious burnout, was in a long distance relationship, and just needed a break. So instead of going to grad school immediately (Speech Pathology-have to have a master's to work) I moved to the same city as my boyfriend (we'd been long distance our entire relationship-time to see if it would work for real or not) and worked in a restaurant for a year. Made enough to live off of, but not really save, figured out it definitely works with BF, and really, really appreciated my field and chosen career after a year of rude people and bad tips (not everyone-but servers definitely remember the bad ones more than the good).

    Grad school has taken serious dedication and I wouldn't suggest going into it without having an idea of where you want to take it. I think taking a year is great. If you need to take that year to explore your field and narrow down your interests, do it. If you need to take that year to do nothing school related and just recharge? That's definitely ok too! DD has plenty of time to decide, even if she doesn't feel that way. Taking a step back can be very clarifying!
    the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique



  12. #12
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    Jul. 6, 2005
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    Default

    I took 5 years off between undergrad and grad school, and I was a much happier, more focused grad student because of it. I feel sure that if I had gone straight to grad school from undergrad that I would have burnt out and never finished my Masters. If she needs time off, she absolutely should take it.



  13. #13
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    Apr. 14, 2003
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    Default

    I also took 5 years off between undergrad and grad school. I thought I wanted to go to law school, but wasn't sure. Someone gave me some great advice: Don't go to grad school because you don't know what else to do! I didn't go. I worked a few jobs, took some more classes, and decided to get a PhD in a completely different field than my major! I don't think it made a difference for getting into grad school. I was, however, 5 years older than most of my contemporaries. no regrets.



  14. #14
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    Sep. 11, 2003
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    Default

    My dad has been a Professor for most of his life, and has been an advisor for countless PhD candidates, as well as being involved in the grad school admissions process. He has taught at 3 different Universities, and in his department (computer science) at EVERY school, he has told me that they definitely give preference to students with some "real world" experience (ie not applying immediately after undergrad) and also that the students who have taken some time off are generally more successful in their graduate studies. I'm sure this varies depending on the field and the school and the individual...but certainly not uncommon or detrimental in his field.



  15. #15
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    May. 25, 2001
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    Queens, NY
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    Default

    Yes yes yes a thousand times yes, take some time off before graduate or professional school. And don't go back till you're good & ready!!

    I was burned out at the end of college. 9 years later I went back to Law school and did rings around the kids who were burned out from going straight from college. I also knew why I was there, and a lot of them didn't.

    While not all of the most successful students were "returners," all of the returners were very successful.

    Personally I don't think it's a bad thing if you put off grad school and then find something else to do with your life. A Ph.D ain't all that, and financially it's usually a bad investment.
    Proud Member: Bull-snap Haters Clique, Michigan Clique, and Appaloosa Clique!



  16. #16
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    Oct. 29, 2007
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    TN
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    Default

    Just wanted to say I am SO glad to read this thread! I'm taking next year off before applying to grad school for my PhD in ecology. Watching all my friends going through their applications has got me nervous that I'm making the wrong decision, but it sounds like I'll be fine!
    "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

    Phoenix Animal Rescue



  17. #17
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    Jan. 27, 2004
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    Default

    I took a year and a half off between degrees. The only down side is that I had a much lower tolerance for "busy work" after being out doing real work. I also came in with real-world experience, so it was a little odd being taught by a couple of brand-squeaky-new PhD professors who had no experience more relevant than what they read in professional journals.

    Being out, working in my field, helped a lot when it came time to select graduate coursework. It also allowed me to decide where I wanted to work and what I wanted to do after graduation, so I could tailor my education to that specific job.
    ---------------------------



  18. #18
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    Mar. 1, 2003
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    I wasn't sure of my path and took a year off between high school & undergrad (deferred enrolment). I was glad I did - I knew I had the motivation to return, so that wasn't a problem.

    By the time I was 3 years through undergrad I again wasn't sure I liked the path I was on. I decided to finish 4th year & get my degree, then work for a bit and see what I wanted. (My classmates were applying for MBAs and law school.) I did not want to apply for grad school "just because" or because I thought it would be a cure-all for not knowing what I wanted to do. The debt aspect also worried me.

    I took 2 years off total. When I first graduated, the job market was bad and I ended up working in a restaurant for 10 months. Then I got a job using my degree, but it was FAR from what I enjoyed, plus a long commute. I got burnt out of that and decided to try horses full-time. This also turned out not to be a suitable career path for me, so I finally applied to law school.

    4 years later I am a lawyer and not sure if this is the path for me! However I do not regret doing what I did and think I will forge my way forward regardless.
    Blugal

    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng



  19. #19
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    Oct. 18, 2008
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    When I got my undergrad in Geology, our profs strongly encouraged us to take a year before grad school and get some real world experience related to what we wanted to do. I worked a year in Taiwan to make sure I liked and could handle overseas living, and to get my first year 'culture learning crash course' out of the way. Then I did my Masters, and it proved to be an ideal way to go. At least half the other grad students in my department had also taken time off. The year off certainly didn't hurt my getting into grad school, it showed I was serious about my degree specialty (International Watershed Management).
    HAS provides hospital care to 340,000 people in Haiti's Artibonite Valley 24/7/365/earthquake/cholera/whatever.
    www.hashaiti.org blog:http://hashaiti.org/blog



  20. #20
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    Sep. 20, 2005
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    I graduated with my Bachelor's last May and was supposed to begin attending law school this past August. Instead, I deferred for a year. I'm working full time and generally getting a feel for life before I go back to school. Next August though, I will be attending law school. I think taking the time off has been beneficial so far. I actually have time to decide what it is I want out of life before dropping another 80k on my education.
    "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
    -George Morris



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