Ironically enough, I myself have succumb to the temptation of higher education. After graduating from a public four-year university with a measly bachelor’s degree in strategic communication, I returned to school as a graduate student last year, while working full time. And although I’m energized by learning new things and excited by the prospect of that shiny master’s degree, there are a few unforeseen consequences of enrolling in grad school I wish I’d known earlier.
Here are five reasons you may want to rethink graduate school.
You know grad school tuition and fees will cost you some serious cash, but have you thought about what Uncle Sam will have to say about your student status? Whether you plan to work during grad school or not, becoming a student comes with a laundry list of unforeseen financial consequences from paying taxes on grants and scholarships, to forgoing potential retirement savings you could be accruing while in school.
Giving up evenings
Do you truly understand how grad school could impede your lifestyle throughout the week? For part-time grad programs that hold classes in the evening, 2-3 times per week, you’ll be losing valuable time you could otherwise spend running errands, socializing, and relaxing. Compound that lost time with the added burden of completing assignments outside class, and you’re losing a substantial portion of your life. And when you don’t have time to shop for groceries AND meet your friends for happy hour, your social life will likely be the sacrifice you make.
Let’s say you manage your time well, and can carve out opportunities to enjoy yourself throughout the semester. Don’t be surprised by the nagging feeling you’ll get that you’re skirting your responsibilities. Unlike work, where you leave your responsibilities at the office at the end of the day, the boundaries between free time and school time are blurrier. When I settle in to relax, I often find myself wondering whether I could have given that paper one final proofread before I turned it in. Wherever you try to relax, guilt will try to follow.
I was excited by the prospect of enrolling in elective courses that reflected my interests as a grad student. But unlike undergraduate courses, grad programs require higher-level courses to satisfy degree requirements. However, it’s nearly impossible to enroll in higher-level classes outside your chosen discipline — no prerequisites, no entry. This means you could get stuck in elective courses inside your program’s department that are narrowly focused, obscure, and BORING.
Not worth its weight
It almost goes without saying that when you shell out for grad school, you’re taking a huge risk. There’s an ongoing debate around the value of higher education, at the undergraduate and graduate level, and whether real-world experience isn’t more valuable. So be prepared if your degree turns out not to be worth its weight.
Are you contemplating grad school? What warnings have you received? Tell me in the comments or tweet me!