The Faceoff: The graduate school debate

      Graduation is rapidly approaching for seniors and graduate school application deadlines are nearly upon us. We’ve declared our majors and explored our interests, but that doesn’t mean we all have a future in mind. The “real world” may be intimidating but I feel that if you’re not certain where you want to end up, there’s no point wasting time and money in graduate school.

      I have a lot of friends who know exactly what they want to do and the only way to get there is with a master’s degree. If that’s the case, then go for it. I admire your ambition and frankly, I’m envious of your vision. I wish I had one of my own.

      For those of us stuck in the middle, unsure of where we want to go, why not jump right in? Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Take some time, do some volunteer work, try something new, just get out there and experiment. Figure out what you love before you invest all that money.

      Cost is a major issue for most of us. What is that $50,000 really buying? Two years of hard work, semi-real world experience with the helping hand of a professor and the alumni network. In an economy like ours the network is a tempting promise but I don’t think it’s worth the price, especially if you don’t know where you want to end up. And frankly, it’s not that hard to create your own network.

      My main issue is my indecision. I’m afraid that if I go to graduate school, I won’t be able to be picky when it comes to choosing a job. There may be more options available with a master’s degree but there won’t be time to delay once the debt starts piling up. I don’t want to settle. I’ll take a part time job as an assistant or even an unpaid internship if it sounds interesting enough, but I don’t want to settle on the kick-start to my career just because I have to start paying back my loans. I want to be interested and I want to be able to quit if I find that I hate my job. I want to shop around.

      I don’t see any problem with starting out at the bottom, wherever that may be, and learning on the job. In the time it takes to go to graduate school, I could be working my way up the ladder in whatever field I decide to stick with.     

      It’s a terrifying prospect; most of us have never been truly independent, but it’s also the most exciting transition in our lives. This is the first time we’ll be able to do whatever we want without anything to tie us down. There will be loans to pay back but they’ll be manageable. If there’s ever a time to explore, it’s now. We can move around the world, try different fields and start building that network. Most importantly, if things aren’t working out, we can go back to school with a better idea of what we want to pursue.