Last week, I discussed paying very close attention to your passions while in college. Being in tune with what moves you, what really lights your fire, is exceedingly important. If you try to extinguish the flame, you will end up miserable.
But, that was for undergrad.
Let’s say that you did in fact follow your passion in college. And you ended up with a philosophy degree. That’s great, you have honed many skills that will be valuable to you in any career you choose. You’re able to look at the workplace with a fresh perspective.
But you know that Craigslist and other job boards don’t have a career category for philosophers. Nobody puts an ad out there stating “thinkers wanted, apply within”.
You have a few different options:
- Find a company that moves you, and apply for every entry-level position available.
- Find a career path you’d like to follow and apply for an entry-level job in that field.
- Go to graduate school.
I’m strongly in favor of options one and two (full disclosure, I have only one degree) and would only recommend option three if it will further your life and career.
Calculate the Cost vs. Benefit of Grad School
Unlike undergrad, you really should be doing a cost-benefit analysis of whether graduate school is right for you. “Gee, the economy is bad, and I’ll have a hard time finding a position, maybe I should go to law school” is not the right line of thinking. At all. That will end up getting you at least $100,000 in debt, and the best-case scenario is that you find out in law school that you are truly passionate about law and lawyering and you’ll be happy. Otherwise, you’ll be a lawyer who works very hard to get that debt paid off, and, if you’re like some of my peers, you’ll make just a little bit more money than those friends who don’t have a huge debt to pay off.
You’re more than welcome to peruse graduate school course catalogs. I love doing that. Looking through a catalog, and thinking, “goodness, an MFA in writing sounds like a fun way to spend a few years” is kind of cool.
But then, you really need to consider the long term. Let’s be honest, here, people. Going to graduate school is a life time decision, not a five-year-plan decision. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and even if people like you, your loan burden is yours alone.
Make sure that your future earnings will more than cover you. Or find a program that pays you while you’re earning a degree. Just make sure you know the best way to pay for graduate school.
Sit quietly and ask yourself what you want out of this one, short, precious life. Then see if graduate school fits in.
You want a job at a big company, and you want people to take you seriously? Good, then maybe an MBA is right for you. You’ll learn a lot, you’ll gain experience, and when you’re done, you’ll have less of a baby face, so people will take you more seriously. Just know the student loans to pay for your MBA.
You want a simple, quiet, debt-free life? Then do your best at work, find someone to spend your quiet time with, and enjoy.
Just don’t go to graduate school to postpone real life. It’ll catch up with you.
Did you go to grad school? Was your degree worth it, or were you postponing the future?