Academics & Research News

Going back to graduate school after a long break

graduate studies

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Upon completion of their undergraduate studies, many students will join the more than 6,000 graduates enrolled in various masters, doctoral, advanced certificate, professional and joint degree programs. 

Although this is the next step in their careers, many students do not do it immediately. The majority of graduate students enter a program within 12 months of earning their undergraduate degree.

Those who lead programs, like principal investigator of the biomedical engineering department Muayyad Al-Ubaidi said the decision to attend graduate school is personal. 

“It depends on what you do when you get out of the undergrad program,” Al-Ubaidi said.

A lot of students go into industries that have nothing to do with their future ambitions, which can be harmful to their ultimate goals, Al-Ubaidi said. He also advises future graduate students to use their time away from school to reassure their ambitions. 

Graduates with at least one year of work experience received starting salaries of nearly double those who had no work experience, according to a survey.

There are some areas where students are encouraged to gain work experience before starting their graduate degree, and there are others where this would be less important,  said the dean of the UH graduate school Sarah Larsen. The time gap helps students gain work experience in their field of study. 

In 2018, only 42 percent of full-time students were hired, while 81 percent of part-time students got jobs, according to the national center for education statistics.

Larsen recommended for students entering graduate school after a long break that they do not hesitate to ask questions or seek help if they are having trouble navigating aspects of their student experience. 

“You have many resources available to you including your instructors,” Larsen said. “At the UH graduate school, we support all students, whether they start their journey to a graduate degree right after their undergrad or if they’ve taken a year or more off.”

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