I used this website several years ago when working through the college application process, and it was extremely useful. I'm now at a point where I need to figure out my graduate school plans (or lack of plans), so I thought I would revisit this site for some advice.
Just as some background, I'm a recent graduate from a Cell Biology program at a top 30 school. I was in the pre-med/pre-med health but eventually decided against that career. Unfortunately, after two summers in volunteering in a research lab, I realized that I really can't stand lab work, either, so I'm also avoiding that path (intellectually I like it, but the day-to-day of the job was really unpleasant for me). Now I feel stranded with this degree and am not sure how I'm going to turn it into an exciting and lucrative career, so I've been looking at masters programs that could either get me started in a new field or help merge biology with my other interests (comp sci, geography, and linguistics, to name a few). However, I just feel overwhelmed by all of the options.
Even though I decided to wait to apply until my gap year so that I could "figure things out", I STILL don't feel like I know what I'm doing. I'm the type of person that loves learning and has very broad interests, so I've found so many programs and career paths that look interesting (bioinformatics, public health, science writing, data science). I am having a hard time figuring out which programs are legitimate ways to advance my career, and which programs are just money grabs. For example, I was seeing online masters programs that had the "name brand" of schools like Johns Hopkins, but they seem like a completely different level of rigor and prestige than I would expect. On the other end of the spectrum, I've seen programs that look perfect, but that are offered at schools that aren't top tier, and I worry about what impact that might make.
I got straight A's in undergrad and have 170V/168Q on GRE, but my experience is lacking and my rec letters will be more of the "she did great in my class" variety.
I know this is a bit more of a rant than an actual question, but I could use help. I don't have a family background in graduate school and don't really know how all this works. Are merit scholarships possible/common in MS programs for someone with my academic background? Are there any particular masters that I should look into or avoid given my background and interests? How important is the "tier" of the school? Did anyone else out there graduate similarly lost as me, and how did you end up in your eventual career?
This ended up way longer than I expected, so thank you so much reading and for any advice you can give.