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« More Burning Questions About Surviving Corporate America | Main | Hot Industries for Job Seekers »

September 28, 2009

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Great post

I almost went to law school, then figured out I had better ways to spend 3 years. There is a very interesting book called "Hit Over the Head with the Bar" that tracks people who enter law school through how many are actually practicing law three years after graduation. It is a small percentage.

I'm torn on this subject. I went to graduate school and just completed my MA in International Public Relations (which very few people have in the US). Do I think it will necessary help me in my career? Maybe. But it probably is hindering my current entry-level job search because many employers don't seem to know what to do with an advanced PR degree.

However, going to graduate school allowed me to spend a year focusing on what I really wanted to learn before entering the job market and, more importantly, feel good about my choice to go into communications. In the end, I worked for my MA because I wanted more education in my field and the freedom within my education you get with an MA rather than a BA/BS.

@Will, the percentage of people who have JDs and are practicing law 3 years later is not necessarily the same as the percentage of people who have JDs and regret that decision 3 years later. You can learn more in law school than just how to practice law.

I recently graduated with a Bachelor's Degree. Not long before my graduation, I got a letter in the mail from my school telling me that the economy was bad and that I should consider going to grad school.

This made me very angry, and I did not take them up on the offer. The job search is grueling, however, they weren't lying about that economy thing. I still have enough debt, thank-you-very-much, and do not feel that I would benefit from an advanced degree. Reading this article makes me feel a little better about my decision.

You should go to grad school primarily because you have an intellectual interest in the field that you will study and not because of the possibility of enhanced employment after you graduate. If you can marry both up, then that's "icing on the cake". Last time I checked, no decent university attaches a guarantee of employment to their diploma.

Whatever happened to study for the love of it ? All my own study was done from sheer enthusiasm. It sll developed valuable transferrable skills directing cumulatively-improving, effective team participation in the working environment. Why would one want to force study/learning into the yoke of work ? Study for the sheer joy of it - but let's learn everything that might be remotely useful in any situation - leisure, work or even community action. That way, nothing is left undone, no opportunity lost ..

Grad school is a unique experience of a life time. While it may or may not enhance your hire-ability after graduation, if you only focus on the employability that your Masters or PhD could bring, you're totally missing the point, and you probably shouldn't do it -- you'll only end up wasting your time because you won't be able to enjoy and treasure this most valuable experience.

I've met quite a few people who are in their early 20's with Graduate and Masters Degrees. And I think, why did you do that? As someone who does hire entry level people, I won't interview or hire someone with a Masters and absolutely NO EXPERIENCE. I think a college education has it's place, but actual experience speaks louder.

Here is my personal quandary - I have a Bachelors degree and am thinking about getting a Masters to help me elevate my career to the next level. I also have 10+ years of experience in the industry. I am torn as to whether I should spend a ton of money on a Masters, or just continue to work and use the years of experience to help me where I want to go.

If I look at pros and cons, I don't think spending $60K on a Masters will ever be made up in my compensation, as I have a healthy comp now. But if employers see 12 years experience (b/c it will take at least 2 years) AND a Masters degree in the field, I think it will make me stand out and ensure long term employment.

What would you do?

Thanks for all the terrific comments!

@Wendy: Is it okay with you if I answer this in my WSJ Mailbag segment? I can remove your name if you like.

@Rick: I see your point, but people should understand their own motivations before enrolling.

@Les: There's nothing wrong with going for the love of learning, but you should be aware that it may not translate directly into enhanced job opportunities.

@Rob: I think this is a valuable perspective, and thanks for helping me educate people on this issue.

@Arch: Glad to help, and I can't believe they sent you a letter like that. Rather irresponsible, if you ask me.

@Chris: Fair enough.

@Carrie: that it's done, you're looking at the situation in a very healthy light. Best of luck in your search!

@Will: Law school is notorious for being a catch-all solution for people who don't know what to do with their lives. Sounds like a fascinating book. I'm going to check it out.

A million dollar article and even better solutions. Even we as students in business schools never mapped out a plan and took things too lightly. The result was same as you have mentioned in the beginning. But i don't regret that now, because i m working with a company i would have dreamt to work with. Hirelabs, Inc. :). I love going to the office everyday. :D

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