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Post College Plans? Grad School vs. Joining the Work Force


Deciding if or where you want to go to college after high school is a big decision, but deciding what to do after college can be even more confusing and intimidating.  From my personal experience as a Chemistry major, many college professors tend to make it seem like going on to graduate school after undergrad is the obvious and only correct option.  To some students, it might be.  However, it is absolutely not the only option! 


Explore Scientific Roles in Industry: Find a position working in your field of interest. Explore roles such as Laboratory Technician, Data Specialist, Sample Coordinator, Project Coordinator, etc.  There are many different opportunities inside and outside of the lab that you have yet to experience.  Take a year or two to explore different positions and you may just find your dream job that doesn't require any additional schooling!

  • Below is an article of a scientist named Paris Grey, written by Maggie Kuo in Science Careers.  The story depicts the life of Paris, who started off as an entry level laboratory technician right after finishing her undergraduate degree, and landed her dream job without attending graduate school: Should you go to grad school?


Join the Work Force Before Attending Graduate School: Most graduate school programs are very specialized.  You may have graduated with an undergraduate degree in Chemistry, but now you must choose to go to grad school for Medical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, etc.  Some students might know exactly what specialty they are interested, but sometimes it is hard to know for sure when most undergraduate chemistry programs only offer 1-2 courses in each discipline of Chemistry.  The benefit of working in an industry role before attending graduate school is you can figure out what specialty is right for you.  You may have loved your Analytical Chemistry course in college, but working as an Analytical Chemist might be very different in the work force. Once you find what specialty you are passionate about, then you can apply for that specialty in graduate school without any hesitations!



Just remember that there is no obvious or correct choice when deciding what to do after you have graduated college.  Take the time to think about what is best for yourself before jumping into anything.



Reference: Kuo, Maggie. “Should You Go to Grad School?” Science, vol. 360, no. 6392, 1 June 2018, doi:10.1126/science.caredit.aap8018.