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5 Signs You Shouldn't Enroll in Graduate School

5 Signs You Shouldn't Enroll in Graduate School

By Bridget Kulla, edited by Kathryn Knight

September 03, 2008

There are good reasons to go to grad school – to pursue an interest you’re highly engaged with or to take the next step necessary to meet your career goals. There are also bad reasons to go to grad school. Think twice about earning an advanced degree if one of your primary motivations for going to grad school falls into one of the following categories.

1. You’re not thrilled about your current job.
It’s easy to fantasize about leaving your less-than-dream job and going to graduate school. If your motivation for going to graduate school is more to escape your unfulfilling job than because you want to pursue an interest that you are passionate about, you should reconsider. Rather, assess whether it’s your job or career that needs a change.

2. You’re having trouble finding a job.
You’ve sent countless resumes, sat through dozens of interviews, and still haven’t been offered a job that excites you. If you lack valuable experience, it may take time to land a job in your field. An advanced degree won’t necessarily solve all your employment issues. It could be more worthwhile to continue your job search.

3. You really like academics.
You like taking classes, you like interacting with other students and professors, you even like studying. Just because you enjoy being a student, doesn’t mean pursuing a career in academia is the best idea. If you enjoy academics but don’t have a clear sense of what you want to study or what your chances for a fulfilling career in academia are, take time to weigh other options.

4. Everyone’s doing it.
Your roommate is sending in applications, your old lab partner just finished their first semester at grad school — it seems like everyone is earning an advanced degree. You may not have been considering graduate school before, but now it seems like you’ll be left behind if you don’t. Are you making a mistake entering the job market? Probably not. Enrolling in grad school right now might not be the best decision for your career and academic goals.

5. Your parents want you to go.
Many parents take an active role in their children’s educational and career decisions. Your parents’ influence may be subtle or could be more in-your-face, but don’t let them decide your future for you. Figure out whether the career you’re considering — and the advanced degree that goes with it — is your idea or your parents.’


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