Taking a break from your studies before doing your master's

Staying motivated throughout busy semesters, working part-time, and paying fees on time is some of the things that most students battles with every day. While many students are strongly motivated after they graduate, others are less, and some consider taking a break from their studies before going for their master’s. If you have recently graduated or about to graduate, you should consider if taking a break from your studies is an option for you. Think about it, you have spent the last 3 or 4 years finishing your bachelor’s and now you are about to commit yourself for another two years. In this post I discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of postponing your master’s studies, and maybe it will help you to take a better decision.
Firstly, taking a break from studies doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing. There are plenty of things to do that can make your resume stand out. It is likely that you got debts and have upcoming fees to pay, so full-time employment might be an option. This way you can dedicate your time and find a job in your field of interest. Since you have (or soon will have) a bachelor’s degree you will qualify for better jobs and you are likely to earn more than the job you might have had up until recently. This is a good option if you would like to buffer up some cash and get some work experience in your field of study. Similarly, being in a relevant job whilst you apply for your master’s make your application stand out.
Secondly, although many students prefer temporary employment, there are more adventures things to explore while taking a break from your studies. Some see this as a good opportunity to travel. Maybe you have some place you always wanted to go to, or maybe you learned about a new country during your time as an undergraduate student. For many technology students a visit to the famous Silicon Valley is a sought-after destination, or how about visiting a smartphone factory in China or Korea, or a university in India? Undoubtedly, employers value applicants with international experience so traveling is also something that is beneficial for your resume, so this is a good option if you already have saved up some funds. How about taking the time off to become a scuba diver somewhere on your favorite island in the tropics?
Thirdly, if you are less concerned about spending or earning, studying something completely different may also be an option and motivation booster while having a break from university. Depending on your field of interest, maybe there is a certification that would be to your advantage, a driver’s license you would like to pass, a blog you always wanted to write or a training program you always wanted to nail at the gym? This is a good option if you would like to spend less and still invest in yourself and time with your family.
In conclusion, from my own experience taking a break from studies may have benefits if you plan well. It is important that you stick to this plan and don’t post-pone your master’s studies too long just because you found a well-paid job, so temporary project work may be a better option. Make sure that you stay organized in terms of having necessary documentation available for your application and that you meet the entry requirements for your master’s upfront before considering a break from your studies. I applied for my master’s program during the end of my bachelor’s program, meaning I received a conditional offer from my university. In my situation my university had two intakes per year for the master’s program, so I could either choose to start my master’s two weeks after graduation or wait until the next semester.  I chose the latter mainly because my TOEFL scores had expired and I was forced to retake the TOEFL test to meet the entry requirements as mine had expired. Looking back, I think it was a wise decision because I was able to study for, and pass, the TOEFL test, travel a bit and take up temporary employment during my time off university. Now, almost 6 months passed since I graduated, I feel refreshed and more motivated than ever to continue my studies, and I will, if possible, probably take a similar break between the master’s and the Ph.D.
Did you opt for studies, travels, temporary employment, or a combination of the three?

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