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3 Reasons to Skip Graduate School


There are plenty of reasons to go to grad school. For some careers, advanced degrees and the credentials that go with them are the price of entry. Other jobs rely on connections that are best made in academia. But a graduate degree isn’t a panacea. Just ask Ron Rosenbaum, who left Yale to become a writer, first at local weeklies and then, eventually, at Esquire.

Why did he flee the ivory tower? In an article in Slate, he explains his reasons, not the least of which was that the classroom was boring and the students careerist. Reading his account, it occurred to us that he touches on several reasons why grad school isn’t always the right choice.

Here are reasons that students often cite for continuing their education — and why each is a mistake.

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1. You want to learn.

“In fact, if you’re interested in learning as opposed to credentials and career,” Rosenbaum writes. “I would advise, immediately upon leaving college, taking out a subscription to the London Times Literary Supplement which has been for me a vastly useful way of keeping in touch with the greatest minds and clearest thinkers and writers in academia — and finding copious reading recommendations — which will serve you better than most graduate schools and is far cheaper.”

2. You’re afraid of the real world.

As Rosenbaum points out, grad school offers the illusion of security, but rarely the real deal. Tenure is hard to come by, these days, and grad students can find themselves deeply in debt, without a clear career track to pursue.

3. You want to be a writer.

Don’t get the wrong idea: We’re not picking on MFA programs. But if you long to write about the real world — “cops and robbers,” for example, as Rosenbaum did when he quit grad school to become a crime reporter — the real world might just be the place to get the experience you need.

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(Photo Credit: phi1317/Flickr)

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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