is grad school right for me? help for a newbie (long)

<p>i can't believe four years are almost finished. i've always had plans to continue my education after graduation, but school and life seems to have sped up time. maybe it's late..and maybe i'm naive, but i am not ready for my college experience/learning to be done.</p>

<p>i had always told myself i'd try to pursue an MBA after graduation, but i'd almost rather continue on in my field of study - but somewhere else. los angeles has been a true experience, but it was never my intention to live out the first 21 years of my life here.</p>

<p>now as i reach the end, i feel as though my grades and educational background have shut some doors for a business degree. if i were to continue with a liberal arts degree, money would be a huge factor.</p>

<p>my top choice was always UNC chapel hill (they had waitlisted me), and i am interested in their russian/eastern european graduate program as that was my specialty in undergrad.</p>

<p>my primary questions?</p>

<p>-are my motivations substantial to continue on?
-would pursuing a higher degree (for me) be fulfilling or just act as a venue for accruing more debt?
-am i too late to start thinking about this/are my grades competitive?
-should my desire to study at UNC play into my decision process?</p>

<p>some quick facts about me:</p>

<p>-spring '12 BA from UCLA in european studies, ~3.4gpa
-12 month internship at morgan stanley/smith barney
-8 month internship with the los angeles clippers' front office
-supervisor at student union operated coffee shop
-have not taken GRE
-many ECs, but few documented
---homeowner and landlord for 3.5yrs
---backyard mechanic; several vintage bmw restorations
---amateur track and autocross competitor
---accomplished cellist; semi-professional level
-only one or two student/professor relationships
-$13k in student loan debt after graduation</p>

<p>I would not advise going into more debt to get a graduate degree of this type.</p>

<p>
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would pursuing a higher degree (for me) be fulfilling

[/quote]
</p>

<p>This is not something anyone other than you can answer. </p>

<p>Attending UNC just because it's your "dream school" is not a valid reason, either.</p>

<p>MBAs typically require 2+ years of professional work experience. Just in case you're still thinking of that.</p>

<p>What would you be able to do with that masters degree? Do you just like the subject, or do you actually want a particular job that requires that degree? Does it offer any funding or would you be taking on more debt? You need to really think about what you want to do as a career and what that masters degree really has to offer you before deciding whether to go. Going to grad school to continue studies and avoid the real world is not the right answer - it is too costly for that to be the reason.</p>

<p>try not to make my motives too shallow here...my main point was that i'm not really ready for my college learning/experience to be done, and i feel like double majoring in liberal arts is pretty fruitless.</p>

<p>no, i do not have a set plan or goal for my life right now, but i'm only 21. i am fortunate enough to be escaping with somewhat minimal debt from my undergrad. i'm also still idealistic/naive enough to put academic/life experiences above my ultimate career goals. i have the desire to keep learning, but would like for it to eventually benefit me down the road as well, not simply in terms of monetary potential.</p>

<p>MBA is more of a professional school than graduate school. </p>

<p>If it's about living the college life, forget about it. Being a grad student is a totally different (not necessarily a worse) experience than college.</p>

<p>A 3.4 GPA is perfectly competitive for many grad programs.</p>

<p>EC's and playing cello won't matter.</p>

<p>Do your best to obtain good GRE scores - most people serious about grad school get perfect scores on the quantitative. Those going into the humanities tend to score high on verbal as well.</p>

<p>I don't think you are unqualified. The bigger issue is the more personal one as you've alluded to.</p>

<p>I wasn't making them "shallow," but that's all the information you provided to us, so that's all I could base my opinion on. </p>

<p>I wasn't ready for mine to end either, but I am in the workforce and figuring out what exactly it is I want to do. I don't know if going into a grad program with no clear aim is good, if you are paying for it. If it's fully funded, then it's not as big of a risk. But I feel like working for a bit after undergrad gives you a clearer idea of what you want to do, what you like/don't like to do, and provides you with some real experiences. Would you want to graduate the MA program realizing it's not what you want to do, and have to go through another program to do what you want to do? Or would you rather work for a year, narrow down your interests, and be on the right footing? </p>

<p>If you have the time and money to toy with, then go for it. If not, then you'll want to consider these things.</p>

<p>
[quote]
most people serious about grad school get perfect scores on the quantitative.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Yes, humanities majors should focus very much on the verbal. However, quants aren't usually too high, but if you crack 700 you're good.</p>

<p>If you do decide on business school, they prefer the GMAT, not the GRE. Some business schools won't even take the GRE. I personally find the GMAT's verbal section much easier, and relies less on memorizing hundreds of words. I'd say the quant is about the same.</p>

<p>now as i reach the end, i feel as though my grades and educational background have shut some doors for a business degree. if i were to continue with a liberal arts degree, money would be a huge factor.</p>

<p>MBA programs rely on your previous business experience and GMAT/GRE scores moreso than GPAs. Most MBA students have 2-5 years of experience before returning to earn an MBA, so I don't see how your grades would close doors.</p>

<p>Why do you want to do a Russian/Eastern European graduate program? First of all, what does that mean? Literature, language, culture? Second of all, graduate students are pursued for a goal. Do you want to teach Russian? Do you want to do research on Russian history or Eastern European culture? Or have you just not figured out what else you want to do yet? If the latter is the case, then get a job.</p>

<p>Why do you want to go to UNC? Is it because they have a great Russian program or just because you think it would be cool to live in Chapel Hill? Again, if it's the latter, seek employment in the area and move there to get a job.</p>

<p>ECs don't count for graduate admissions.</p>

<p>try not to make my motives too shallow here...my main point was that i'm not really ready for my college learning/experience to be done, and i feel like double majoring in liberal arts is pretty fruitless.</p>

<p>So get a job and take some college classes on the side. The problem is, when you are 21 years old the only learning you've ever known to do has been inside a classroom. There are LOTS of ways to learn outside of the classroom, and most places have universities that offer continuing education. You don't have to pursue a graduate degree and borrow debt to continue to learn. You should ONLY get a graduate degree if you have a goal in mind for it and you need it to do the work you want to do.</p>

<p>Do your best to obtain good GRE scores - most people serious about grad school get perfect scores on the quantitative</p>

<p>No they don't. It's common in quantitatively oriented fields to get a perfect or near-perfect score on the Q section of the GRE, but if you look at the averages in less-quantitatively oriented fields, they are pretty...average. Around 600 or so. Check out the ETS website; they break down averages in terms of field and not just totals. The mathy programs skew the data to the left.</p>

<p>"Why do you want to do a Russian/Eastern European graduate program? First of all, what does that mean? Literature, language, culture?"</p>

<p>i was looking through their program descriptions and found that specialization. most of my undergraduate work pertained to the post-soviet system...my focus was on slavic sociopolitical development. no, i do not intend to become a teacher - but i enjoy the subject material a lot.</p>

<p>'"The problem is, when you are 21 years old the only learning you've ever known to do has been inside a classroom."</p>

<p>that is quite the loaded statement you've made there.</p>

<p>obviously, i'm not getting taken very seriously...so instead of arguing it out i am going to respectfully back out of this thread.</p>

<p>thank you all for your advice and input.</p>

<p>You are being taken seriously - you're just not liking the feedback that is being given. You DID ask for advice, did you not? </p>

<p>If you have plenty of money and time to toy around with, then do it for yourself and get the masters. But it doesn't sound like you have any idea what you want to do as a career, so you're spending as much time in school as you can to push off that decision.</p>

<p>The best thing you could do is start to draft a statement of purpose as if you were going to apply to that program. This will force you to think early about what your goals really are, why you really want to attend that program, etc. If you find this very easy, then it might be for you. If it is very difficult, then you have a lot of other questions that you need to answer for yourself.</p>

<p>mkcman17 - you are being taken seriously. On one hand - I too disagree with the statement somebody made with a slight hint of senility: "The problem is, when you are 21 years old the only learning you've ever known to do has been inside a classroom." But it's a good point. You've acknowledged yourself that you don't know what you want to do in life at this young age. However - attending graduate school requires that you DO know what you want to do, so if you're unsure, it may be better not to force that decision. Starting a grad program and realizing it's not for you can be a major mistake, so best to have that figured out before committing.</p>

<p>And that indeed is the main issue at hand, NOT whether or not you are qualified for further studies, which I assume you may be. I'm still confused - do you want to do an MBA or a Russian Studies graduate program? That's a pretty darn fundamental question that needs to be answered affirmatively before proceeding any further. And more importantly, WHY do you want to do one? If it's because you have enjoyed the college life and don't want to leave it, then you are in for a rude awakening as day-to-day graduate school life is no where close to college life by a long shot. Grad students tend to live indeed very solitary lifestyles - I certainly did (and I loved it - the maturity and independence). Also, applying to two different fields certainly feels odd, since graduate school applications is all about focus, not about breadth.</p>