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.