All over the country, colleges are winding down their spring semesters and a whole new crop of seniors are contemplating the future. In this time of economic uncertainty, graduate school has been a popular choice for undergraduates unsure about the flailing job market. While in some cases applying to grad school makes total sense, there are some reasons that graduate school is the exact WRONG choice:
1. Don’t enter grad school to postpone going out into the real world. We’ve all read the headlines and watched the news – real life is scary. However, graduate school will not serve as a cure-all. In fact, if you embark upon graduate school improperly, the time, money and energy that you waste will end up being much more frightening that tackling today’s society.
Parents, I know that it may be tempting to support your child’s desire to continue with their education and postpone them facing the harsh realities that the real world has to offer. I would suggest that instead of hastily co-signing on an ill-fated plan, you encourage your child to do some serious soul-searching about the next steps.
2. Do not go to grad school to substitute for a lack of experience. There are some fields for which graduate school is not only a good idea, it is a necessity. For example, if you are planning to become an attorney, physician or psychologist, you must have a post-graduate degree. For many other fields, however, on-the-job training and practical experience trump any other education that you may receive after obtaining a Bachelor’s degree.
Parents are often shocked that their 21- or 22-year-old is expected to be ready to go into the workforce. The hard truth is many young people are not. The even harder truth, however, is that grad school will not necessarily provide the knowledge-base required for that young person to be seen as an authority in his/her field. In many cases only experience and time can help to flatten out the proverbial learning curve. Encourage your child to seek opportunities to gain experiential insight.
3. Don’t go to grad school to compete with your peers. Your friends may be planning to go to graduate school and you may feel pressure to follow in their footsteps on the road to success. It is a big mistake to apply to and attend graduate school based on this premise. Keep in mind that your friends will not study for you, sit in for your exams or pay the tuition for your post-Bachelor’s degree. There is more than one road to success; in fact, your path may be unique and unconventional. Wholeheartedly rebuke the notion that if you are not working in your field or attending graduate school immediately after graduation that you are a loser.
Many parents get caught up in the “social chatter” of detailing our children’s accomplishments. For some, this may begin around kindergarten and can persist up until our children are well into adulthood. Resist nudging your child to go to grad school because Ms. Smith’s son is applying or Mr. Jones’ daughter is headed for further study. Take a step back and allow your child to plan his or her future based on their distinctive talents, skills and interests.
The decision of whether or not to go to graduate school is not an easy one. Students, with the help of your parents, devote a great deal of time and energy to determine appropriate next steps. Once all of the wrong reasons to go to grad school have been eliminated, a choice can be made based on serious contemplation and discussion.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sia Knight’s story is one of triumph in the face of adversity and achievement against all odds. This former teacher, counselor and administrator has transcended humble beginnings to become an educational specialist in the nation’s 13 largest school division. As a child growing up in a southern Virginia public housing development, Sia could have easily followed the destructive path of many of her peers. Instead, with the encouragement of strong mentors, she managed to achieve both academically and professionally. Today, Sia Knight dedicates her time to helping parents and students make sense of the college admissions process.
Sia Knight can be found at http://www.SiaKnight.com and @SiaKnight on Twitter
Find lots more expert advice on getting into grad school in the newly released book: Graduate School: Winning Strategies For Getting In, 2nd edition, by Dave G. Mumby, Ph.D. It is the most comprehensive advisement handbook for College and University students who are considering graduate school. Whether you are still deciding if grad school is right for you, or are looking for ways to maximize your application, this book is for you. Paperback version available at Amazon & Barnes & Noble. eBook available on Kindle and for Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps. Get your copy now.