Three worst reasons to go to grad school


Reason Number One: To Impress People
Forget this lame rationale for another sheepskin. If employers need someone with a master’s degree, they’ll have plenty of contenders for the role, and which candidates do you think they’ll pick? They’ll choose someone who knows him or herself, and who’s on a path — not someone who invests time and money in a grad-school education in order to impress employers who care about those things.
When I hear from employers who proudly proclaim “We only hire people from Ivy League schools!”, I immediately check my mutual funds to make sure I’m not invested in those places. Talk about fear-based leadership! People who believe that impressive schools make people impressive aren’t to be trusted with any investor’s money or any customer’s business, much less with the emotional and mental investment that organizations ask of their teams.
Reason Number Two: To Buy a Professional Network
Grad school (along with undergrad programs, book groups, running clubs, and tons of other work-related and just-for-fun crowds and associations) does provide a scholar with sharp minds to brainstorm with, and that’s a wonderful thing. If that sort of thing nourishes you, go for it! If you’re thinking that a grad school program will fast-track you into the club called People Who Know the People One Needs to Know To Be Successful, please refer back to our Reason Number One.
Reason Number Three: Because Employers Want It
Employers have talent needs all over the map, and it’s tempting to go after advanced degrees that our research suggests employers are looking for. Here’s the problem: Once you get the degree, you still have to get the job, and employers don’t want people who simply possess the sorts of sheepskins most badly required for the 2012 business environment. They need people who are charged up about what they’re doing and who are already in their power. If you were an employer getting ready to spend a chunk of change on a well-educated new hire, wouldn’t you look for a standup guy or woman, someone who knows who he or she is, and makes his or her own path?
Here’s the other problem: People who follow a career path because the employment forecast for the field looks good, call me ten years later to say “I hate my life.” That may be the biggest problem of all.