Five reasons NOT to go to grad school

Grad School Admissions

Are you trying to figure out if grad school is the right step for you? The process of deciding if you should spend the time and money going to grad school can be a tough one. There are many great reasons why you should go to grad school--unfortunately, there are just as many bad ones. Here are five of my top reasons why I might tell you that going to grad school is not the best step for you:

You don't know what else to do.

Being at loose ends is no reason to do anything, least of all go to grad school. If you find yourself not knowing what your next step--either academic or professional--should be, your next stop should be a career or academic counselor, not an admissions office. Grad school is a costly endeavor that will take you years of commitment and dedication. Don't go just because you want something to do. 

You're afraid of going into the "real world."

Grad school, while it may not be a 9-5 job, is still very much part of the "real world"--particularly because most graduate programs (particularly those in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts) are geared towards students then continuing on a career in academia (which will be very similar to grad school itself). Using grad school as a way to escape the real world or responsibility will only delay the inevitable. Instead of using grad school as an avoidance tool, make sure you are using it to advance very defined career goals and aspirations.

Your parents are making you do it.

Although having the support of family is certainly important (particularly when dealing with something as life-determining, costly, and involved as attending grad school), following a parental wish in this case is misguided. You must realize that it is not your parents who will have to shoulder the grueling academic or (in many cases) financial burden, nor will they be the ones to hit the pavement to find a job and pay back the loans that will put you through grad school. When it comes to choosing to go to grad school, it is strictly your own decision, based on personality, career, and life goals, and not someone else’s desires. 

You want the prestige of an advanced degree.

There are many ways to pump up your résumé or CV other than getting an advanced degree. Before taking the plunge into a lengthy and potentially costly graduate degree, first make sure that it is necessary for your career advancement, and that the cost/benefit analysis of paying and attending grad school will make it a worthwhile investment for you.

Everyone else is doing it.

Peer pressure, whether external or self-imposed, is no reason to do anything, least of all take on the considerable responsbility of attending and paying for grad school. While it may make perfect sense for others to attend grad school, it may not make sense for you. Rather than simply "going with the flow" and looking at grad school because it seems that's what everyone else is doing, take some time to really think about the reasons for your choice, and what you stand to gain (and lose) with that kind of decision. Make it a personal choice, and not one that the crowd is making for you. 

Going to grad school isn't a bad idea in and of itself--but it can be a bad idea for you if you haven't thought it through or if your reasons aren't sound. Take some time to figure out why you want to go to grad school before spending all that time and money applying--you'll be better off later for it!


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