Before you read, I just want to put it out there that I went to grad school. Straight after college, I entered a Master’s program. I was an English major living in Academia Land, where all you’re told is that getting a Ph.D. in said major should be your life goal. Your crowning achievement. K thanx guys, but that’s more than a little misleading. I definitely wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do, so I chose something I was interested in. Language. Hot damn did I love tutoring writing. The complexities of the English language? That’s my jam. So, I went into a program for Teaching English as a Second Language. Am I now even more detail-oriented than before? You betcha. Grad school was definitely a positive experience in the big picture, but I do wish I had gone the job route for a year or so before I went back to school. Why? I’ll tell you.
1. Dolla’ dolla’ bills y’all.
If you are not getting a Ph.D. you might as well cut holes in all your pockets because graduate school is EXPENSIVE. Most Ph.D. programs are funded because you’re signing away 4-8 years of your life to research for the university. Finding a funded Master’s program is like finding the other sock that didn’t come out of the dryer. IT’S NOT THERE. Jobs, on the other hand, give you the money to buy a new pair of socks.
2. You get a late start.
Grad school life = coffee, theory, debate, late nights of philosophical implications, and big dreams. First job life = coffee, hustle, action, sweat, getting shit done, and sometimes harsh realities. But reality is more practical than theory. Instead of debating what might happen in theoretical situations or interpreting case studies, dealing with real problems and deadlines in actual jobs can give you better experience and skills for future roles. The sooner you find that first job and start working, the more job opportunities that will be available to you.
3. There are no guarantees.
If you’re looking into something really technical, like electrical engineering, continuing your education is a great idea. But if you’re choosing grad school right after college because you think it will help you get a better first job, be careful. There are no guarantees. Having another degree and no experience is the same as having one degree and no experience. Putting off a job will most likely prevent you from seeing what you’re really capable of, and more importantly, what you actually enjoy doing in the work world.
4. Figuring out the “Now what?”
Working a job, even if it’s not exactly what you want to be doing, will give you a good sense of what’s out there. While it might be a rough ride, it will ultimately give you a sense of direction. And if you do later decide that grad school is right for you, you’ll have a better sense of how to apply the degree you want to earn. Ultimately, grad programs are made up of people with some work experience, and they are the ones with an advantage because they have been in the trenches.