1. It opens up your mind
Around my third year in undergrad, I was done. I felt like the coursework became an annoying song on repeat that I couldn’t change and I felt like I wasn’t learning anything new. On the contrary, when I was doing my masters I felt like we were learning practical, tangible and analytical skills. I finally felt like this is WHAT I always wanted my education to be like – something relevant to what I am interested in and at the same time practical for the job market. That was public health. At the masters level, you tend to learn analytical skills, critical thinking and if you are able to get some research methods in there as well those can prove to be very helpful in the increasingly conceptual job market that we have today.
2. It opens up your network
Graduate school brings in a new set of people into your life. Most masters programs are relatively small so you get to know each other much more than you would colleagues from undergrad and given that you are now in the same professional/academic field, this can prove very useful further down the line as you specialize more and more. In undergrad you are mostly with your age-mates who probably think like you and have very similar experiences to yourself. At the masters level I found that I met amazing people with very different professional, educational and family backgrounds and of different ages. This formed part of the richness of the discussions as well as the breadth of the new network built.
3. It opens up doors professionally
Increasingly a bachelor’s degree is becoming like a high school diploma – sad but true. I remember before I applied for my masters, I was working as a clerk at a University enrolment services department. On paper the job required a minimum high school diploma; however, apart from one or two staff members who had worked there for more than 20 years, almost all of the staff had a bachelor’s degree. This is an increasing trend across the board. Whether or not you like it or not, as more people obtain bachelor’s degrees, masters degrees are increasingly offering a competitive advantage.
4. It opens up doors financially
We all want to improve our present and future living conditions not just for ourselves but for children, and a masters degree can facilitate that. Having a masters degree opens you up to managerial positions which often come with higher salary sometimes $10,000-$20,000 more and in other cases depending on your work experience, even more than that. It is NOT automatic that you do a master’s degree and you get a higher paying professional job. Sometimes having a masters but with little professional experience can be a disadvantage as you attempt to get into the professional workplace because you now are very skilled but lack much needed experience and at the same time you are too qualified for entry level jobs. Being aware of these challenges can couch the disappointment if the financial increase is not instantaneous. If you’re here, persevere, remember ‘weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning’ (Psalm 30:5). So I encourage working between a bachelors degree and a masters degree, even if its 1-2 years. I’ll be doing a blogpost on that shortly 🙂
5. It opens up academic prospects
Masters degree-holders can and do teach at various levels as adjunct professors, at both universities and community colleges, as part-time professors and as teachers in high school. If you are thinking of working as an academic administrator, then a masters degree can also facilitate that. Mostly in the US you can go directly into a PhD from undergrad. However in most cases, having a Masters is a pre-requisite for going into a PhD program. If this is something that you are thinking about then having a masters would be a stepping stone towards achieving that dream. Teaching while you are a masters holder can be a great way to consider whether you are interested in becoming a professor, without necessarily committing to a PhD degree – you just might discover a hidden passion in there.
6. It can be a second chance, a comeback
Now this is a tricky argument – to get into a Masters program, you need fairly decent grades from your undergrad. That being said, if your undergraduate transcript was anything like mine, then you do have some grades that you are not so proud of. That need not deter you from pursuing your dream. Dealing with and overcoming past failure is one of the valleys that we go through on the journey towards pursuing your dream. If you’re in that valley, forgive yourself, take responsibility where necessary and move forward. Don’t do a masters just because you want it to ‘erase’ your past – it wont do that. Let God help you overcome past failures by surrendering that part to Him. Once you have regrouped, consider whether an additional professional designation is part of the journey to pursue your dream, getting a masters can downplay the past failures highlighting your successes in the graduate program. In a sense, it can give you a second chance if you come back to it with a new focus.
7. It can be a bridge into a new career path
Many of us didn’t have a perfect clue of what we want to become ‘when we grow up’. Perhaps you began your study as a biochemistry major and half way through it realized THIS IS NOT FOR ME. And switched to Arts. As your idea of what you want to be ‘when you grow up’ gets clearer, a Masters degree can help you consolidate the parts of you that don’t make sense in your resume. You might have started out in one field, and then decided that you want to go into a completely different direction. Rather than going back for a second bachelors degree, consider doing a masters that combines aspects of both your past experiences and the skills you need in your future steps – this is not always practical like if you did anthropology and now want to become a nurse, there’s no way around it: you’re doing a nursing degree, but you get my drift.
Your masters is often most beneficial when you have a better sense of where you want to go rather than a step in delaying the process of figuring out your next step. You need to search within yourself and put together what you already have so as to see how it could fit in with where you want to go. Learning is never a waste! Investing in yourself is always beneficial.