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December 3, 2013

To study or to work?


Confused 1Dear Asad,

I recently did my Masters in Research and Education. I have got two choices now. Either I can study further full-time and do MPhil or I can look for a job in my chosen field. The admission to MPhil degree will open next year but before that I have to pass a test called GAT with at least 50% marks. I have started preparing for this test and at the same time am thinking of a job but am not sure if I will be able to handle both. I am quite confused and can’t seem to decide what to do. I would be thankful for your advice in this matter.


Dear Saba,

You are in a position where many students find themselves after completing their post-graduate studies, i.e. to study further while they are still in the swing of it and get another degree and thus become more qualified. Or to take a break from studies and get a job to get practical experience of what they studied at university.

Which of the two options is best? Frankly, that differs from person to person and situation to situation. For some it might be better to study more while for others it might be a good idea to take a break from studies and get a job. Juggling both together can be quite difficult and not everyone can cope with that.

Are you the sort of the person who can do both? Do you have enough time and resources to do both? Are you disciplined and committed enough to do both? These are some of the questions that you need to ask yourself and come up with honest answers.

To continue studying would be easier in the sense that it’s something that you have done uninterrupted all your life. It’s something you are used to and will be able to do without having to make any drastic changes to your life.

On the other hand, to start working will be a new and hopefully a positive experience for you. You will start using practically what you spent all those years in university studying about. That’s usually a liberating and fulfilling experience. And the fact that you will be earning is also a big attraction.

Many people get a job after post-graduation studies, work for a few years and then later on take a break from work to go back to university. This is a good option for those who want to take a break from studies after completing university. The downside to this is that many people, once they go out in the practical world, are unable to find time or the desire to return to university again, especially if they are earning well.

Some people try to counter this by working full-time and studying part-time through evening, distance or online courses. This is a good option but again takes a lot of time and dedication and is not for everyone.

What you now need to do is to figure out what is best for you. Take a piece of paper and write down the pros and cons of all the options available to you. Share these options with your family, friends, teachers, etc. Their advice should be greatly helpful as not only do they know you, they would also be looking at it from their perspectives. Thus you will get a broader picture of what would be the best course of action for you.

Also talk to your class mates and hear what their plans and ideas for future are. That could be helpful. If possible, also talk to people already doing MPhil at your university about their experiences. What path did they choose and why? Talk to people who got a job after completing Masters. What were their reasons and what are their experiences? Delve both into the positive and negative aspects of both the situations. Compare and contrast and then take a step. All the effort that you put in now to research and plan your future will help you immensely in making the right decision for you.

I hope you will be able to take a decision that will turn out well for you. Just remember one thing, life is full of choices and while we should take great care that we make the best choices possible, there are times when what we thought was best for us doesn’t turn out that way. This is quite natural and happens more or less to everyone. The trick then is not to get disheartened or hopeless and give up but to learn from the unexpected challenges and to move on. That’s what life is all about. All the best!


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