Post-Grad Decisions: More School or Work?

Hello everyone! 

Today was a beautiful day of fall here at Illinois, and I could not be more happy. I love summer, but it’s sweater season, and I’m going to start dressing. Luckily, this (hopefully) won’t be my last first day of fall on campus. I am furiously applying for graduate school, and my #1 choice is, surprise, Illinois! I love this place so much I had to stay longer. Although I’m set on going to graduate school, I can tell a lot of my peers are struggling with their decision to continue their education or not and enter the work force. So if you couldn’t guess from the title, this blog will be on that decison.

Pre-Professional Tracks

I know many of you haven’t even thought about this, but I think its important to think about especially if you’re considering a pre-professional track. When I started out my freshman year, I planned on going to medical school, so I started taking my pre-med chemistry courses. Around my junior year, I realized medical school was not the right choice for me following undergrad. I still wanted the option open, so I continued to take the classes. The reason I am telling you guys this is because if you are in any way interested in potentially following a pre-professional track, you should start taking the courses and see if you like it. For example, if you’re interested in pre-law, take a lower-level law class (I am not at all sure if this is the first step, so take this with a grain of salt and ask an advisor), and see how you like it. If you’re digging it but still not sure, take the next class and so on until you can come to the decision for yourself whether you want to continue or not.

In addition, just because you have followed a track for a few semesters doesn’t mean you HAVE to do it. I took all the pre-med classes, and I qualify to take the MCAT and apply to medical school, but I know that right now, it isn’t for me. Its totally okay to make these decisions for yourself!

Internships / Jobs

It’s bitter sweet that the class of 2020’s time is coming to an end. Many people graduating alongside me are on the mad search for jobs and internships post-graduation. I want to give you all a sigh of relief by saying everything will be okay. No need to stress about job searching now, but looking for internships is going to feel like a similar process. This is a good way to prep for when the time actually comes. You’ll be scrolling through internship ads, applying, interviewing and hopefully working with them for a summer, semester, year, whatever they offer.

Quick side note: not sure if you guys know about this, but there are internships that allow you to work over the course of a semester. You won’t take classes but instead work full-time at said internship. Details may be different, but opportunities like this allow you to get hands on experience in the field you’re interested in.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “I don’t want to work an internship,” that’s totally cool; I didn’t either. I wrote a whole blog about it last semester on alternative options—check it out!

Graduate School

I heard a joke the other day: “Should I go to grad school?” is the new “Should I get bangs?” I can tell this is definitely a debate some of my peers are having right now. I want to come out and say out front: if you don’t want to go to grad school, DON’T GO! You might hate it. Grad school seems like a backup for a lot of people, but unless you are dedicated and applying, it’s a very competitive process. Depending on the type of program, it may be nothing like undergrad. I want to just clear this mindset for you all before we talk about it.

If you’re in any way thinking about it, don’t fret if you can’t decide right now. Applying for grad school follows about the same timeline as applying for undergrad. Instead of SAT or ACT, one takes the GRE/MAT or other standardized test. The application process is a bit different; in addition to applying for a program, one may have to apply for funding too.

Overall, this is a timely process and if I am being honest, I’m feeling the stress. I really wanted this blog to open up your eyes to some potential and popular options post-undergrad. I don’t want you all to stress, considering it’s far from now, but keep things in mind.

I wish you all good luck on your application process!

Till next time!

JN

Julissa

Julissa

Class of 2020
I am majoring in Integrative Biology within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and am on the pre-med track. I am from Lemont, a small southwest suburb of Chicago. If you want to read about the daily life of a student on campus and get some tips and tricks in the trade, my post are for you!

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