Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Grad School and Career Planning

Should I go to grad school? Do I need the credentials? The network? What do I need to learn for the rest of my career? Would I be better off teaching it to myself with free and inexpensive resources, or through a degree-granting program? Do only the top-10 schools justify the opportunity cost of losing out on two years of more work experience? What if the program is free? What if it's part-time? What if it's only one year? What if I just traveled the world for a year: wouldn't that be a better education? What if I start my own business or non-profit: wouldn't that be a better education?

These are the questions that my peers and I ask ourselves all the time. Two years ago I was pretty sold on at least applying to MBA programs; however once I started running my own business it seemed like everything I needed to learn I was learning as I went. Not only that, but grad school is expensive! Well, not all of the programs out there, but the fact is that most grad schools involve assuming 5-6 figures of debt.

Right now I have friends who are at top business schools, who are in or have done a variety of graduate school programs, or who are considering whether or not to go. There seems to be no consensus on whether or not it is worth it, though the most sage advice seems always to be along the lines of "do what's best for you." What's interesting and to many, what's stressful, is that the economy seems to present so many unknowns now. What will be most valued in the labor market of the future? Do we all need technical skills? Creative skills? Management skills? Work experience? World-class networks? Passion?

I'm curious where other come down on this.


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