Are you afraid to regret going to grad school? Let me share some of my experience, and then see for yourself!
I’ve always loved school. I don’t mean to sound like a huge nerd or anything…but I guess it’s already a little late for that. While all my classmates seemed to always dread studying, I have to admit that I actually looked forward to it. It was my own little escape into a world of possibilities, of what-ifs, just waiting to be solved.
So when I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, it only seemed like the natural next step to go for my Master’s. Not only did this mean I could further my education and gain new skills, but it would also give me a few more years to figure out what-the-heck sort of career path I actually wanted to go down. With the dreaded “a”-word—adulting—approaching faster than ever, I was looking for an alternative—and fast. Needless to say, my decision to go back to school was a win-win in my book.
Related: 5 Ways to Prepare Yourself for Grad School Before You Go
I quit my 9-5 and set off (yet again) for another few years in the classroom. Fast forward two years full of countless all-nighters and copious amounts of lattes, and…I’d finally done it! But after seeing all of my hard work consolidated into a little 8 x 11 piece of paper mounted on my wall, I suddenly wasn’t sure how I felt about the whole thing. As much as I tried to ignore it, a little voice of doubt creeped its way into my head.
Was going to grad school a good idea?
Like most things in life, there (unfortunately) wasn’t a black-and-white kind of answer to my question. It was way more complex than that—there were definitely some major pros of getting my Master’s, but (dun dun dun)…also some pretty hefty downsides.
Let’s take a closer look.
Do I Regret Going to Grad School? Personal List of Pros & Cons
1. It allowed me to become an expert in my field.
Let’s start out on and optimistic note and look at the silver linings. Studying at the graduate level helped me perfect my craft (i.e., Spanish translation) better than I could have ever imagined.
I don’t think I was ever in a classroom with more than 8-12 people, which made for a much more personalized experience than a 100-person undergrad lecture. Plus, people generally pursue a graduate degree because they’re over-the-moon passionate about what they do.
Well, turns out that thirst for knowledge was contagious (in a good way), because I found myself more and more eager to learn everything I could.
2. It was a great place to make valuable connections.
Not only was I surrounded by an entirely new social circle, but I also had the chance to network and meet future business partners.
In grad school, the networking possibilities are almost endless: a fellow student, a boss from your internship, your graduate advisor—you name it! By taking advantage of networking during grad school, I’ve gotten a ton of freelance opportunities over the years that I never would have gotten otherwise (and cheers to that!).
3. It showed me an inner strength that I didn’t know I had.
Lastly (but certainly not least), getting your Master’s is a huge accomplishment.
The workload was so intense at times that I swear I sprouted my first gray hair in grad school (at the ripe age of 23, I might add), and I even walked to class one day with two entirely different shoes on!
It was by no means easy tackling such a huge task, but it helped me realize that I’m a lot more mentally strong than I’d previously given myself credit for.
4. It was e-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-n-g.
Now for the flip-side of the coin: the cons. Towards the end of my Master’s degree, I started experiencing major symptoms of burnout.
I had been spending so much time conducting research and meeting with my graduate advisor that I started to feel like I was losing a bit of who I was.
To top it all off, my perfectionist tendencies were in full-swing, making it harder to successfully walk the fine line between studying and having fun in grad school.
5. It might actually make job-hunting harder.
Another downside is that I secretly feel like my higher education sometimes counts against me when searching for jobs.
A master’s degree is obviously a huge asset when looking for employment, but it can also mean that employers either think: 1). that I’m overqualified, or 2). that I expect to be paid boatloads of money (which I don’t!).
After being turned down from several jobs for which I was qualified, I couldn’t help but wonder if my Master’s had something to do with it.
So (drumroll please)…Do I regret going to grad school?
In short, absolutely not (phew!). Even with all the downsides considered, it is still one of the best decisions I’ve made so far in my twenties.
But…do I think I was a bit too young for such a colossal responsibility? Yes. I started grad school when I was 22, and I think that it probably would have been an entirely different scenario had I waited another year or two until I had a bit more experience under my belt.
However, I’m a firm believer in trusting the process and that “everything happens for a reason”—it’s not a cliché for nothing, after all. At the end of the day, choosing whether or not to go to grad school is a very important (not to mention personal) decision that nobody else can make for you.
But sitting here two years after graduation, I can’t help but feel anything but proud when I stare at that seemingly-silly, little 8 x 11 piece of paper.