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3 Reasons Not to Go to Grad School — Even If You Have $100,000


We’ve discussed the rising cost of graduate degrees, but even if you don’t have to take out a loan to finance your higher education, there are certain circumstances under which you absolutely should not go to grad school.

“There are a lot of things you could do with $100,000, and going to school because you aren’t sure what to do with yourself, or because of received wisdom that an extra degree is always helpful, could be a colossally misguided move,” writes Dorie Clark at the Harvard Business Review.

Clark advises against returning to school just because:

1. You don’t know what else to do.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

“Yes, it’s a better alternative than moping around if you’re unemployed,” says Clark. “But it’s also expensive — and that means you need to treat it like an investment, which means you’ve done your research and really thought about how you can extract the most learning and value from it.”

Let’s face it: most of don’t actually have a spare 100k lying around.

2. Your career is stalled.

Sure, the right kind of graduate degree could help you do better at your job, and therefore get promoted. But you won’t automatically get a career boost from getting another degree — and in many sectors, it takes a while to earn out the investment you put into tuition.

3. You got into school.

It’s a nice ego boost, but higher self-esteem won’t necessarily cure your career woes. Instead, really think about where you want to go, and which path is most likely to get you there. If that turns out to be grad school, then have it. If not, well, at least you’ll have saved yourself a lot of cash.

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(Photo Credit: Ricardo Villela/Flickr)

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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Barnaby Dorfman
Barnaby Dorfman

I finished grad school 16 years ago and still get value from the experience in three dimensions:

1. Skills learned
2. Personal/professional network gained
3. Brand on resume

So I’d say, don’t bother unless you plan on working hard to learn, meet people, and put your degree to work.

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.