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Too many people have gone to graduate school just because they felt they needed to or, in some cases, because they couldn't find a job in their field of study. Others believed that getting a Masters degree would help them get a job. However, experts say that none of these are really good reasons to go to graduate school and they can actually make getting a job more difficult and not easier.
Don't go if you don't know
If you don't know what you are going to do with a graduate degree, you probably shouldn't go to grad school. And you definitely shouldn't go to graduate school because you think it would make it easier for you to get a job. In fact, this can actually harm your ability to get the job of your choice.
Does this sound counterintuitive? Not if you think of it this way. First, if you plan on a career that doesn't really require a graduate degree, your prospective employers may think you don't really want the job as you didn’t go to school for it. They'll believe that you will leave the minute you find a job in your field of study’
Second, you won't receive any full-time work experience while you're in school. When you finish your graduate program, your peers that have been working for a year or two and will be more experienced and better positioned than you.
As noted above, you're likely to rack up a large amount of student loan debt. This could limit your prospects, as you may feel forced to get a job you don’t really want but that pays more so you can pay back those loans.
Does it truly require a graduate degree?
The best question to ask yourself before you sign up for that graduate program is if the job you want truly requires a graduate degree. If you’re not sure this is true, talk with people who do the kind of work you want to do. Ask them how useful it would be to have a graduate degree. It's possible they will tell you that the job won't deliver the payoff you're looking for and that experience is more valuable. On the other hand, you might learn that it will really help to have a graduate degree. If this is the case you should move on to the next questions such as are there certain graduate programs or schools that will help me the most? You should also ask if there are some programs that will not be of any help at all. Could you enroll in a cheaper program that would still offer the benefits you need? You need to get answers to questions like these before you sign up for grad school.
An internship could be better
If you learn that a graduate degree would not help you in your career, there are much cheaper and less time-consuming ways to figure out what you want to do for a living such as an internship, networking or just trying out jobs that sound interesting. You shouldn't treat grad school as a way to determine what you want to do in life. If so, it could be a very expensive and long career counseling session where it would be better to get out and start working. Then if you find that you're pursuing a career path that requires more schooling, go get your Masters degree then.