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Why Graduate School May Not Be For You

Why Grad School Might Not Be For You

Schooling has been your reality your entire life up until now. For the pasty twenty-two (ish) years, you’ve been surrounded by classmates and professors, assigned projects, tested, and graded on each task you’ve accomplished.

Education has become an integral part of who you are, not only because your parents and society push scholarship upon you, but also due to your personal desires to grow, learn, and flourish. Education has been your full-time job through elementary school, middle school, high school, and college.

Now that you’re on the cusp of graduating college or have recently finished your undergrad, grad school seems to be the next logical step. But is it really?

For more than five years now the number of college graduates delaying their entrance into the workforce in exchange for entering grad school has statistically skyrocketed. For some career paths the choice not only makes sense, but is required. Soon-to-be attorneys, doctors, teachers, and potential CEOs are required to pursue masters, doctorate, and professional levels of education just to be considered for an interview and deemed qualified. For those of us, however, who aim for liberal arts, business, freelance, and administrative positions, perhaps an additional two to four years of scholarship and tuition bills really isn’t the wisest path for us to take.

Twenty-somethings today face tremendous underemployment circumstances. The American workforce is flooded with Bachelor’s degrees on each end of the spectrum. Liberal arts and hard science graduates face entry level positions because there are not enough jobs to go around for the seemingly endless supply of qualified grads.

Rather than forgo entering the workforce to continue education, perhaps twenty-somethings need to change their perspective. Maybe it’s more important to get started on working for a living, and let grad school come later, if at all.

As fellow twenty-something and GenTwenty writer Nicole says, “‘I needed to take time for myself to understand my values and to understand where I wanted to be career-wise five and ten years from now’” (The Niche Movement). Nicole further mentions that the world is her classroom and how there are certain experiences and types of information that she can acquire without footing a tuition bill.

This is the type of perspective college grads should attempt to understand before applying to grad schools because it seems like the most logical thing to do.

For this reason, and more reasons to follow, perhaps grad school isn’t for you:

1. Don’t go to grad school to please your parents.

This is probably the worst thing you can do to yourself. Yes, making mom and dad happy is something every son and daughter aspires to do, but you’ve only just finished college! Applying to grad schools and furthering your list of degrees isn’t something you do to please others. Achieve greatness only for yourself.

2. Don’t go to grad school if your student debt is already sky-high.

Seriously, why bury yourself in even more student loans? You know that $60,000 note you have from your university that comes with a pretty red 8 percent interest rate stamped on it? Yeah, pay that off now and first!

Delay grad school because it’s extremely expensive and unless your employer is paying for it or a graduate degree is going to guarantee you a six figure income (unlikely) then it just isn’t worth it to ruin your credit score.

3. Grad school isn’t for you if you’re delaying “real world” experience.

You graduated college and you aren’t ready to face the “real world.” We’ve all been there, scrounging for some decently paid job to travel and teach English abroad or apply to grad school just to delay the inevitable. You know what, though? It’s just that: inevitable.

You’re going to have to enter the “real world” eventually so don’t use grad school to put it off or cushion the blow. The 9-5 life really isn’t so bad; you get used to it.

4. You shouldn’t go to grad school if life milestones are your dreams.

Do you want to get married in your twenties? Own your own home? Start a family? If life milestones are more important to you than a six figure income from a blazing career path, then maybe you should rethink the whole grad school consideration.

Demanding school schedules make it difficult to balance babies and honeymoon trips. It’s not impossible, but unless you’re a superhero with amazing time management skills, you may want to put your hopes and dreams first.

5. Grad school isn’t for you if you’re in search of a guaranteed career.

Graduate degrees no longer guarantee high-paying jobs with more reverence. They just don’t. There are unemployed, struggling Ivy League graduates just as there are elite, successful businesspeople with only high school diplomas. These days it’s not only about where you went to college or if you went at all.

Sometimes it’s who you know, the experiences you’ve had, and/or your ambition that drive your career upward. Don’t go to grad school if you think it’s going to absolutely land you your dream career. No degree can guarantee that sort of good fortune, and if you let yourself believe it will you may end up sadly disappointed.

Maybe grad school isn’t for you. It could be, but it certainly isn’t for everyone. For some, breaking out of the education setting and micromanaged, scheduled mold can help broaden experiences and perspectives. Work experience is critical these days, and though your degree(s) may shine on your résumé, it is practical experience that can determine your fit in an organization more often than not.

[Tweet “While degrees are a line on your resume, it’s real world experience that will make you stand out.”]

Consider grad school carefully. You may want to go, but don’t force yourself into it if your career path, goals, and ambitions are unclear. Define who you are and what you want. The rest is sure to follow.

About the Author

Rachael Warren (Tulipano)

Rachael is a University of Southern Maine graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Sociology. She remotely works full-time as a Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. In her leisure time, Rachael enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the next Netflix series to binge, and taking too many photos of her dogs Jax and Kai. Rachael is obsessed with chapstick, favors the Oxford comma, and is a proud Mainer. You'll likely find her exploring New England + beyond.