10 Reasons NOT To Go To Grad School

Congratulations! You’ve (hopefully) made some amazing friends you’ll keep for life, written in countless blue books, consumed more pizza than you ever imagined you’d see in your lifetime and maybe even studied abroad for a semester or a summer. However, the real world is calling—or is it? Some students go on after college graduation and begin a career, while others choose to start graduate school. An advanced degree is necessary for certain fields, but for others, it’s just an option. Not totally sold on more years of school, or wondering what your next steps should be? Here are 10 reasons NOT to go to grad school.
 

1. The “real world” may be more helpful for your career instead.  
While it’s true that an advanced degree is required for some fields such as law or medicine, other fields place more emphasis on gaining field experience or working for several years instead of immediately (or ever) going after a graduate degree. Lots can be learned from starting a career or moving away from campus and learning to live on your own.
 
Barbara Schneider, admissions director for the MBA program at the Trulaske College of Business at the University of Missouri-Columbia, explains, “‘Real world’ experience is always of value to a student starting a career or uncertain about a career path to follow. You’ve been in school a long time and you learn many different things by being a working professional… Any job you have will help you learn more about what you like and what you don’t like, so it can guide your future career steps… [Graduate programs] should not be done just to stay around school a little longer and avoid the working world!”
 
For Maddy Harrington from Mount Holyoke College, skipping grad school is more helpful than hurtful. “As someone who's interested in creative writing as a career choice, I don't think graduate school is a good use of my time,” she says. “I think the best thing for someone in my position to do is to leave school and jump headfirst into the writing field. Experience will do more for me than another two years in a classroom.”
 
2. You don't get to live and act like an undergrad when you’re a grad student.
The past four years may have been filled with crazy parties, awesome late-night study sessions, 1 a.m. food runs and other fun memories that are a cornerstone of the college experience, but 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. Keep in mind that you’ll still likely be surrounded by undergraduate students—an experience that might make you long for the past four years and won’t seem as fun now that you’re no longer one of them.
 
3. Landing a teaching position is harder to come by than it used to be.
According to the American Association of University Professors, more than half of all faculty members hold part-time appointments, and 68 percent of all people teaching in colleges and universities in the United States hold non-tenure-track positions. With a growing number of students earning Ph.D.s in the U.S., (up 22 percent from 1998 to 2006 according to an article published by The Economist) the chances of landing a job at a university are becoming more and more narrow. Another study by The Chronicle of Higher Education conducted in 2003 suggests that out of all newly admitted graduate students pursuing an advanced degree in a field such as English, one out of five will make it to a tenure-track professor position. An advanced degree such as a Ph.D. in the humanities no longer guarantees a job with lots of security and handsome benefits.
 
5. Getting an advanced degree doesn't automatically single you out as a better or more qualified potential employee.

Sometimes work experience is seen as more valuable in the eyes of a potential employer than are a few more years in school.  Employers want to hire people who they know will be able to come in and do the job, and often prior work experience is the best reflection of that.  Simply having graduate-level experience doesn't always translate to skills that are useful in the workplace.
 

5. Going to grad school might mean you have to put important life milestones on hold.
As a graduate student, your focus immediately shifts from the excitement surrounding graduation to the stress created by attempting to balance your own work, as well as teach or assist professors with undergraduate classes. School schedules can make it difficult to see family and friends, and makes it much more difficult to experience things your fellow undergrad classmates will start going through such as the thrill of entering the workplace, getting married and starting a family, buying or renting your first place off-campus, and other important steps towards adulthood.  That’s not to say these things can't happen in grad school, but you’re not part of the “real world” track.