In this episode, Nicole and Marina discuss the pros-and-cons of going to grad school, and whether you need to go at all. We aim to answer the question: to go or not to go to grad school.

For reference, Marina went back to school in 2016 to pursue her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and Nicole chose not to go back to school after graduating with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

Grad school is often a way to avoid entering the workforce or looking for jobs, or used as an extension of time to help find what you want to be doing. For many, however, it is an important tool to help you get to the next steps of your career.

If you’re considering going to grad school, first ask yourself these three questions: 

  1. Will this help me achieve my career goals?
  2. Can I get these skills in another way?
  3. Does this make financial sense? Will there be a return on my investment?

After working for several years post-under-grad, Marina chose to go back to school.

These are her three reasons why she went for her MFA:

  1. I couldn’t get my foot in the door to the industry I wanted to join with the background and experience I had at the time.
  2. I knew that the program I chose would help me develop the skills and help me build the right network to find the jobs I wanted.
  3. I was able to do it without taking on debt, which was very important, because often MFA’s in creative writing are expensive and might not necessarily be able to pay forward the debt. 

Nicole chose not to go back to school after graduating and began building her business instead. She did contemplate an MBA but ultimately for her personal goals, direct experience was going to have the biggest impact. She thought, “How would an MBA have served me as an entrepreneur?” and asked herself the necessary questions we introduced at the top of this article.

These are her reasons why she did not go to grad school:

  1. I was able to build my career and learn the appropriate skills from resources available to me online.
  2.  I was paying off undergrad debt and not ready to take on more.
  3. There’s not a degree that makes sense for me.

A lot has changed since Nicole began building her business in 2012 and Marina graduated with her MFA in 2018. A world of difference, you could say, as we are halfway through 2020, where we’ve experienced a global pandemic and resulting economic turbulence, as well as political and social unrest, and most job recession.

If you are considering going back to grad school now, you need to do your research more than ever and the first three questions we introduced will help you get there.

If you’re looking to pivot your career, change your job, or anything in between, consider other ways to jumpstart change, such as using your network and attending informational interviews.

Online courses for skills you want to learn or brush up on are also another choice for short-term change that can be much more affordable than a graduate program.

Whether you go to grad school, don’t go to grad school, or maybe haven’t gone to college yet or have decided college isn’t right for you: the most important thing you can do for yourself is to dedicate yourself to being a life-long learner. And you don’t need a degree to be one: read as much as you can and as diversely as you can, travel, discuss topics deeply with friends and family, and ask questions often.

Have you gone to grad school? Have you chosen not to? Are you a life-long learner? Let us know in the comments below!

Continue reading about Grad School from the writers at GenTwenty:

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