Friday, October 17, 2008

The lure of Graduate School

While dining with friends the other night, the topic of the current state of the economy came up. (Whoa big surprise) We rambled how it’s a tough time for anyone looking for a job right at the moment or in the near future. One of the women at the table interjected
"Well, this is probably a good time to go back to school then".
This does have some merit. But is it always the best idea to use Graduate School as an easy out? What if we don’t know what we want to go to graduate school for? Would spending between $50,000 and $100,000 make sense unless we knew for certain what we would do with the extra degree? Many careers don’t even need an extra degree. It’s important to do your research. Winding up with a whole bunch of debt you can’t pay off, because no company cares if you have this degree, will be a sad situation.
The idea of Graduate School has been pretty appealing to me at times. The thoughts of leaving my work responsibilities and office politics behind for a while to bask in intellectual stimulation sound great. Who doesn’t love being a student? It can be a lot more fun than working.
It also seems like it could be an easy out for many people who don’t know what their next step is. I’m surprised to meet so many people these days who are in graduate school that don’t actually know what they want to do afterward. My initial inclination is
“Um, why did you start a program if you still don’t know what you want to do?”
When I ask that question a lot more diplomatically, their answer is usually something along the lines of
“I’m just avoiding the real world for now.”
Well, good luck with that.

1 comment:

Leah Rae said...

I absolutely agree with you. Grad school is not something to "pick up in your spare time" like frisbee or the flute. Like any career choice the decision to go to grad school must be deliberate. Just the entrance exams alone require a degree of dedication, time and money (considering application fees, prep books and courses). It's hard to complete the application process - much less the course of study - when one is not completely dedicated and interested. Would you learn to play the French horn if you didn't care for brass instruments?