Degree won’t lead to dream career

We hear it all the time: “Today’s undergraduate degree is yesterday’s high school diploma.” Today’s graduate degree is yesterday’s undergraduate degree. Everyone needs one to compete, right?

With unemployment circling the economic sky and student loan debt rising faster than LeBron James on an alley-oop, graduate school is enticing. It gives you time to delay your entrance into the work force while adding hype to your resume.

However, what makes sense in theory doesn’t always pay dividends in practice. Before investing in those practice books, investing in your life outside of school has more benefits than drawbacks.

The party does not continue in graduate school. Instead, it comes to a grinding halt. Writer Sydney Nolan once said, “Graduate school is a different place. Instead of hanging out with your sorority sisters or going out with the cute guy from your political science class, your evenings and weekends are about to be filled grading papers, writing and researching.”

As a law and journalism graduate student myself, I approve this message. A graduate degree with no work experience marginally separates you from the pack. You may have had  internships during college, but empathize with an employer. If your last quasi-meaningful work experience was a three-month stint during the summer of junior year, how impressive is that in comparison to someone with the same degree and years of experience?

Touting a graduate degree does not replace unproven credentials, but instead can be rather shallow and pedantic, as Peter Griffin says.

By the time college graduation rolls around, we’ve been in school for nearly 17 consecutive years. Experiencing life outside of the classroom is the next step in defining your persona. As corny as it sounds, you are young and have mounds of opportunity at your feet.

And like most young adults, you are likely to change your mind quite a bit. Now is the time to take risks, learn about yourself and be creative. Even if you fail, there is plenty of time to recover. Graduate school is not going anywhere any time soon. Going to graduate school is your career timeout. Play the game of life just a little bit and use it wisely.


Christopher Ivory is a second-year law student.

April 14, 2013


Christopher Ivory

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Degree won’t lead to dream career”

  1. Gene says:

    This article puts forth interesting points. However, I would refrain from giving potential graduate students the notion that “graduate school, with no work experience is a waste of time”. We should instead inform potential students to fully analyzing why they are going to graduate school, is it for the experience or is it for the money (job/skill set).

    Taking the hard economical approach, the potential student needs to look at the ROI of graduate school. What can I reasonably expect to receive with this degree? Is it worth the resources that I will put into achieving it? Is the lack of having gainful employment/entrepreneurship while enrolled appropriate for my expected earning capacity once graduated? These are just a few of the question one should be asking their selves.

    Furthermore the notion that having a college degree or graduate degree, is just not worth it anymore, is pure “shock and awe” tactic. Yes, more people may be getting degrees in 2013, but there is still many more that don’t have them and lack certain opportunities because of it. A degree gives “a chance at opportunity”. It doesn’t promise you anything. A graduate degree in the right field increases that opportunity.

    Personally I would only go to grad school for a professional degree or field of study that I am deeply passionate about and just have the biggest urge to dive into graduate studies. In that sense, the graduate degree is almost a no brainer. That is, you need this degree for your intended career choice or the degree allows you to learn a direct skill set, which you can quickly apply, to create resources (money). Anything else you will catch me at the local library, researching the Internet and consulting with professional organizations.

    For those who go to graduate school cause they don’t know what else to do; just be aware of what you are getting into and mitigate any negative effects. After all people who buy 745 BMWs, should not be too concerned about gas efficiency or the price of gas.

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