DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been going back and forth with the idea of attending graduate school to receive my master’s degree. There are many reasons for my waffling: I don’t have enough money to attend, so I would need to receive some sort of scholarship or loan, and I am not sure what graduate program I want to do. Another reason I am conflicted about the idea is the timing of it. Should I be attending graduate school immediately after I received my undergraduate degree, or work for a couple of years to gain experience and then go back to school to earn my master’s? What do you think is most beneficial or looks best to a prospective employer? -- Master's Degree Debate, Philadelphia
DEAR MASTER’S DEGREE DEBATE: Timing for graduate school is an important decision that prompts many questions. Think about what you want to do for your career. Ask yourself what your career interests are and what steps you need to take to get there. This includes both the education track and the employment track. Can you find a job in your area of interest so that you can gain experience as you earn money? Can you look around for scholarships for your advanced degree or find a program that is relatively affordable? Could you work as a teacher's assistant to offset the costs? Exhaust your options, and write them on a list to compare working first versus going to school immediately. Evaluate your research to decide what your heart and gut tell you to do.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am moving to Philadelphia in a couple of months, and I am deciding who I want to live with. I am a social person and have a bunch of friends I could possibly live with. My grandfather works in real estate and told me he can get a great apartment for me, but it is a one-bedroom, meaning I would not have any roommates. I am thinking about taking him up on his offer, just because it is such a great deal financially. I also keep thinking about how lonely I might be if I do decide to live alone -- I have never lived alone before, so it is a little nerve-wracking. What is your opinion on living alone versus living with roommates? -- Living Solo or Not, Atlanta
DEAR LIVING SOLO OR NOT: Living alone and being able to make your own rules is a luxury. Your grandfather has offered you a gift by finding an affordable one-bedroom. Typically, when young people are starting off, they need roommates in order to pay the bills. My vote would be to live alone and build your network of friends peripherally.
That said, if you truly believe that you will feel isolated and lonely, ask your grandfather to find you a two-bedroom apartment. Since he is in real estate, chances are he can find you what you most want. If you choose to have a roommate, make sure that person is responsible. You should both sign the lease so that you are not soley responsible for any damages. Having a roommate can be fun but challenging.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)