So you graduated college, now what?

USD students are finding their way to the optimal post graduation decision.

By Christopher Ayers

What are your plans following graduation? This can be a daunting question for any student, especially with graduation looming in the spring. While some USD students have a firm understanding of their post-graduation plans, others remain unsure of what the future holds.

“I plan to attend Naval Officer Candidate School and become a Naval Aviator,” remarked senior Gordon Nash.

Similarly, junior Brandon Newton has decided to enroll in medical school following graduation next spring.

“I will not take time off before graduate school, because medical school already takes up so much time” said Newton.

Aaron Schwei, another graduating senior who will be attending law school in the fall, asserts that starting graduate school directly out of college has its advantages. Schwei affirmed, “It is difficult to go back to school when you have a steady income and more priorities”

Still other USD students, including senior Allain Andry, will chart a more unfamiliar path. In June, Andry will fly to Indonesia with some friends for the traveling experience of a lifetime.
Though Andry has gained acceptance to various law schools, he believes that this time away from graduate school will prove beneficial.

“I will gain valuable experience and perspective and will have the opportunity to pursue my love for traveling” asserted Andry.

Andry’s sentiment on taking a gap-year before graduate school is not unique; in fact, other USD students have expressed similar thoughts towards post-graduation plans. Jonathan Gillie, a senior graduating in the spring, will begin work following graduation and he acknowledges the benefits of taking time off before graduate school.

“Taking time off will give me a real-world perspective and help me gain admittance [into graduate school], since most programs are attended by those with work experience,” said Gillie.
Brooke Harrington, the Undergraduate Advising Manager in the School of Business, articulates a message consistent with Gillie’s belief.

She suggests that taking time off before graduate school allows time for maturation, and it offers exposure to the real world.

As graduation inches closer, USD students will weigh their post-graduation options. Some students, for example pre-med majors, will not have the luxury of taking time off, because their future career demands years of education.

Conversely, most USD students will have the opportunity to enhance their resumes, or travel around the world for some time before graduate school, thereby gaining invaluable real world experience.
In an independent study entitled, “The Gap-Year Advantage,” the authors suggest that taking a gap-year leads to greater job satisfaction.

According to the study, the 300 gap-year participants involved were “overwhelmingly satisfied with their jobs.”

As a result of taking a gap-year, these participants had the opportunity to help others. In turn, study participants found that helping others contributed most to job satisfaction.
Indeed, the decision to take a year off before graduate school is an important one, but perhaps a more valuable exercise would involve examining the benefits and costs associated with graduate degrees.
With MBA degree costs climbing upwards of $100,000, it may be more reasonable to begin work following graduation. Then when one is ready to earn a graduate degree, an employer will ideally foot the bill. Nonetheless, the evidence suggests that obtaining a graduate degree generates the highest salary.

According to PayScale Data, grads from the top 45 MBA programs benefit from a 75 percent pay increase over the course of a 20-year career. To be certain, other factors including industry choice, graduate school and regional location also contribute to salary differences.

Ultimately, the decision to take time off from grad school or not attend at all depends on the student, specifically, his background, career interests and personal goals. But for many USD students graduate school represents the next step towards a rewarding career.