To Grad School or No

Is Grad School Worth Losing Income?

This morning I met with a lovely young woman who will be graduating early.  This student is ahead of the game because she 1) saving herself money by graduating in 3.5 years, and 2) she is already weighing her options for graduate school.  At present she has decided to take some time off to gain some work experience and possibly apply later.  I wanted to give her a standing ovation.

I always say, and I’m sure I picked this statement from one of my own professors, that “graduate school is not the place to find yourself.” Graduate is school is not only expensive, but, as any reputable economics prof will tell you, you have to consider the sunk costs.  What happens when you don’t work full-time for two, three, or even seven years as the case may be when earning a doctorate?  Have you saved enough money?  Do you have parental support?  Does the school you’d like to attend give fellowships, assistantships, or scholarships?

I hate to put a kibosh on anyone’s dreams, but graduate school may not be in everyone’s immediate future.  It may be a dream that you have to put aside for a period of time until you pay down a bit of your undergraduate debt.  Furthermore, you may not have the work experience necessary to truly benefit from graduate education.  Many master of business administration (MBA) programs require you to have at least three years of full-time work experience before they will even consider you for admission.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with working a bit before going to graduate school.  Your first years after you earn your undergraduate degree are sometimes similar to your freshman year in college; you have some knowledge, but maybe you need to learn how to apply if you even care to.