Getting a Master’s Degree is very fashionable these days as everyone -surely- gets a degree from college. What else can you do to be one more step ahead from others? Right? (Actually a lot of things but let’s keep them for another post, shall we?) So, long story short, I wanted to do an LL.M. as well (Legum Magister/ Master of Laws) to develop expertise in a subject. Yet, I wasn’t sure when, where or on what subject I should do it since everything can be pretty interesting if you start with an enthusiasm to learn.
There were, however, two times when I thought about getting a master’s degree and decided NOT to even though it was -and still is- one of my dreams. In this post, I will share my reasons, so when the time comes, you may choose your options wisely.
(You can scroll down to the end to see the list of 10 reasons!)
The first time, that I decided NOT to apply for master programs was in my senior year. At the time, I knew that I didn’t want to be an academician direct out of college and I was also fed up with a lot of school stuff because I was both trying to graduate with a good GPA and was also seeking career opportunities for the next year, traveling back and forth the cities for interviews and missing exams in the mean time. So, there was a lot of uncertainty going on and I wasn’t sure if I should start a master’s degree without having a decent experience in the field.
Also, there was the probability of an examination taking place for the first time to enter the Bar. It’s something of course you can pass but if you go abroad to have an LL.M., then when you come back you first need to do an internship for one year (where you will most likely be underpaid which is bad to start your independent life) and also study for the Bar exam which is supposed to be really hard since their purpose is to lower the number of attorneys. Now, I am good with exams, not to brag but both times (when entering high school and university), I ranked 1st and 151st in country-wide entrance exams (approx. among 2 million students). So it is not the fear of failure but it takes a lot of effort to get ready for an exam and if you go to do an LL.M. abroad, then you might miss the chance of getting into the Bar easily just like your friends who completed their apprenticeship to law first. Hence, getting into a master’s degree program following graduation was not very strategic in my situation.
From my previous summer internships, I learned that a master’s degree can be done later in your career when you know which path you want to take and as a break from the tiring work-life, possibly at abroad when exploring another country and its language. So this seems like a good option and there are some lawyer friends of mine who are at abroad right now for LL.M.s.
That’s why I decided not to apply to LL.M. programs in my senior year but to observe the areas of law and give myself a break.
However, to my surprise, the following September, I realized that a lot of my friends (even the ones who partied their way out of college) either got into LL.M. programs or were trying to get into a program for the sake of keeping the ‘student‘ status. Now, I wasn’t really into keeping the status since I was already a registered student at another university’s open program but I was fascinated by how people didn’t feel overwhelmed or fed up by the faculty of law that they so desperately wanted to get back in.
Then I thought, “Am I doing something wrong here or are my reasons to not immediately get into an LL.M. program still valid? Should I apply for a local one?” .
Yes, I was bored at my senior year, thinking that the law faculty should be 3 years just like in the UK, but after the summer break, I wasn’t feeling so tired anymore. Then there was the fact that we were all interns this year (one-year long legal apprenticeship). So everybody kept saying that it is easier to complete a master’s when you are still an intern and not a full-time lawyer with a lot of responsibilities.
Hence for the second time I considered getting into a master’s program. I applied for the spring semester and passed the exam as number one which I didn’t expect since the head of the department gave me a hard time during the interview. Anyways, having been accepted, I had a few days to decide if I was going to enroll or not.
At first I thought, “This is the perfect program for me, it is interdisciplinary, it has very interesting lectures, the university is one of the bests, the program is in line with my interests” and so on. Later I realized that, if I am going to go on this path, then I will most likely want to complement it with a doctoral program. However, because it is interdisciplinary, the faculty of law will probably not accept it and my options for doctoral programs will shrink a lot. So without even realizing it, I was about to hinder my future ambitions if I enrolled in the program. In the end, I decided not to give required papers to start my studentship.
There was also another reason why all of this rush didn’t feel right to me. From a very young age we are faced with a lot of exams as if we are in a race and to be able to successful we’ve sacrificed a significant amount of our time studying, solving tests and mock exams. I am not even mentioning the work load of the law faculty itself and the internship wars every summer. So going for a master’s degree just because everybody does it and you don’t want to feel left behind or to just to put a title before your name is what keeps this system going. Yes, you should do it if you want to but for the right reasons and for yourself. I am still thinking about getting an LL.M. but when other things are settled and for my own development.
Lastly, as we have spent too much time on our academic education, some of us are left with other areas in our lives that needs our attention. For example, cooking a real meal, playing at least one instrument at a good level, having a regular sports program (any physical activity you’ve been able to make a part of your life), little sewing skills, becoming really fluent in another language, getting your diction and pronunciations right. The list can go on and on. What I mean is that we have a lot more to learn and to grow outside of school. So, why not take this opportunity (given you’ve successfully completed your undergraduate degree) to relax, slow down, discover yourself and develop yourself in areas that are crucial to stand on your own two feet in the real world.
To sum up, here are the 10 things you should consider before applying to a master’s program:
- If you don’t want to be an academician or if you are not sure
- If it is strategically better to do it later
- If you want to take a break from the tiring 4 years of university studies
- If you want to save it for a later time as a break from your job and a new adventure abroad
- If the program is not in line with your future goals
- If the program may hinder you from furthering your education in case you change your mind to became an academician (like an LL.M. without a thesis or a Master’s Degree in another field)
- If you are not sure about the topic
- If you don’t want to do it but feel obliged to because of the peer pressure
- If there is a step you need to take in the professional life and the Master’s program can wait
- If you want to develop yourself in other areas of life that are important
What are your thoughts on this topic? Comment down below to let me know.
For Turkish version of this post please click here.