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Why You Shouldn’t Stop at Your Bachelor’s Degree

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Michelle on her graduation day with her younger brother, Michael who is currently studying computer science and plans to complete his master's degree at UT Dallas, too.

I have changed my “university path” so many times since coming to UT Dallas. When I originally arrived, my plan was to complete my BS in Business Administration with a focus in entrepreneurship. After my first semester on campus, I decided to pursue a double major. I reconsidered my double major a few times before the MS in Business Analytics degree was created, and I knew that this was a field I was interested in pursuing. But I didn’t stop there. Today, I’m going to tell you why you shouldn’t stop at your bachelor’s degree.

The Path to Fast-Track

While at UT Dallas, I had the fortunate opportunity to fast-track into the field I was interested in. Fast-tracking means that you take graduate-level courses that satisfy requirements of both your bachelors’ and master’s degrees. This means that you complete your master’s degree faster, and at a cheaper price. Even if you are not fast-tracking, such as if you’re coming from a different university or major, there are still many advantages for continuing your education.

There are easy-to-see benefits of completing your master’s degree. Having the opportunity to further and more deeply specialize in an area of study can help you get closer to your ideal job, and make you better at it. Let’s be real here: You’ll probably have higher earning potential, too. You have more time to understand difficult topics, more time to practice complex techniques and more time to network with people in the field.

Keeping Up with the Fast-Track Program

I found my graduate-level courses to be much more difficult and rigorous than my undergraduate classes. I made relatively good grades throughout my undergraduate career by doing my homework and studying a few days before my exams — but with my graduate classes, I found that I needed to be consistently reviewing the materials in order to stay on top of my work. Even with fewer classes, I had more reading and more complex projects. I made my first C, and I was absolutely devastated (if that tells you what type of a student I was). However, the hard work that I had to put into the degree was incredibly worth it.

Your classmates in your graduate program are also incredibly different than your classmates during undergrad. Sometimes during my undergrad, I came across students who were only in school because their parents were making them attend, or because they didn’t know what they wanted to do. This was quite different from my classmates in my graduate courses: Usually, these students knew what they wanted to specialize in, and worked hard to get here. Since the application process for graduate school is a little tougher than undergraduate studies, your classmates are already more competitive.

I learned a lot from my classmates. Some were like me — fast-tracking right out of undergrad, and had never held a full-time job before. Others had worked for a few years before coming back, and some even were working while taking classes. During my graduate studies, I got a stronger outside perspective as to what different careers might be like. As I was working with more experienced students, I also had the opportunity to mature as a professional.

The Road Ahead

Continuing on with your master’s gives you additional time to build leadership skills in different student organizations, and it gives you more time to network. An extra year might be the amount of time that you need to make the right connection to your perfect job. Some of your classmates may also have worked at or know someone at one of your target companies and can help you get your foot in the door.

Of course, there is no single strategy that will work for everyone. However, I personally found many benefits to pursuing my master’s. Besides further helping me understand analytics, the program helped me grow tremendously as an individual. For me personally, I found that the master’s degree was incredibly beneficial: not only for the technical skills, but for the overall experience.

Michelle Abuda

J. Michelle Abuda earned her BS in Management Information Systems and MS in Business Analytics from the Naveen Jindal School of Management. Currently, she works at Crowe Horwath as a Regulatory Compliance Risk Consultant in the Columbus, Ohio office. During her time at JSOM, she was actively involved as a leader on the Dean's Council. She helped found the JSOM Book Club, as well as the TEDxUTD Club. Read more articles

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