In a 5-part series “Grad School vs. School of Life,” BlackEnterprise.com explores the pros and cons of pursuing an advanced degree in lieu of the job market. Job seekers, professionals and career experts weigh in to help you decide whether the decision is a good one in the grand scheme of ultimate career advancement and marketability.
We’ve all read the headlines and watched the news. Real life can seem scary. The job market is still unstable. Everybody seems to be going for advanced degrees. But, if you think going to graduate school is the answer to all of your problems, think again. Career coach Hallie Crawford lists the top four reasons a leap into graduate school may not be the right move for you:
Lacking career direction: You’re unsure of the career path you want to pursue, so you go to graduate school instead. Hey, you might get lucky and really enjoy your graduate school courses and find your way as a result. But before enrolling, Crawford suggests taking time to figure out what career path is best for you, and then attending grad school only if it’s completely necessary. “It’s a big investment of your time and money, so you want to make sure it’s the right next step for you, not just a desperate measure because you don’t know what else to do,” she adds.
Avoiding the real world: “After college it can be intimidating to jump into the professional world, it’s very different from school,” Crawford says. “But avoiding work by going back to school and being a perpetual student is making a choice out of fear instead of empowerment and choice.”
Following a beau: “If it’s the grad school you want to attend, and it’s in your chosen field that’s one thing,” Crawford says. “But romances can survive long distances, and if grad school isn’t the right next step for you, again it’s a lot of time and money going in the wrong direction.”
Pleasing the parents: Taking the leap should be a decision you want to make, not what others expect of you. “You’re the one doing the work and you need to be committed to it. It’s great that your parents want you to get a higher-level degree, but make sure you agree with them and that school is the next best step for you in your career path,” Crawford says. “If you’re uncertain, tell them you’d like to take some time to really figure out what you want to do first [via] the school’s career center, a career coach or [another resource]—as quickly as you can. Then make the investment if it’s still the right choice.”
While there are good reasons to go to grad school—to pursue an interest you’re highly engaged with or to take the next step necessary to meet your financial and career goals— it’s important to think twice before taking the leap. If your primary motivation for going to grad school falls into one of the scenarios above, you may want to reevaluate to avoid a decision that could shortchange your career progress.
Check out the rest of the “Grad School vs. School of Life” series:
Has the current state of the job market forced you into making a rash decision about graduate school? #SoundOff and follow Jamie on Twitter @JayNHarrison.