Why you shouldn’t pursue graduate school


With our economy just coming out of a recession, many people think a Masters degree will help them become more employable when the work force becomes more stable.

Although most jobs now require some post-secondary education, sometimes if you get too much education, your job prospects may actually be hindered instead of improved.

MBA programs

There are some schools that offer MBA programs which require little-to-no full-time work experience before being accepted into the program.  Although these programs teach you how to be a manager in a company, you may find that you don’t have the work experience to be taken seriously when you apply for management jobs.

While it is true that some schools offer co-ops as part of their program, the amount of work experience you can gain here is minimal: 12 months at most, and often split between two or three different positions.  How can you, a new grad with a total of one full year of work experience, compare to someone applying for the same management position who has been in the workforce for much longer?

Many employers will take someone with more experience than someone fresh out of school, especially since an MBA usually connotes starting with a higher salary.

Jobs in academia

One of my favourite profs told me he is the poster boy for why you shouldn’t stay in school: even though he finished his PhD more than five years ago, he still hasn’t been able to get a tenure-track position.

Unfortunately, his story is not unique.  As it stands right now, there are very few positions in academia for PhD graduates, even though the number of university applicants has been steadily increasing in Ontario as well as the other provinces and territories.

Additionally, getting a PhD is a long and arduous process, where you are forced to live quite frugally until you finish your degree.  If you even finish it, that is: many students do not.

What you should focus on instead of graduate school

There are two main things you can focus on as a student or new graduate that will help you on your job hunt over graduate school: gaining work experience, and developing a personal brand.

If you have a variety of work experience under your belt by the time you graduate, you can utilize the skills you’ve learned when you apply for entry-level work.

Students and new grads often overlook the importance of creating a personal brand, but it has become an integral part of the business world for nearly two decades (not that any of us would have been old enough to create a personal brand in  kindergarten).   When you apply for a job—any job—there are lots of personal branding techniques you can make use of that will help you on your quest.

Photo credit: meaduva on Flickr