Most of you that are thinking about going to grad school shouldn’t go.
I get emails all the time from graduates that are massively in debt, realized they hated the job they mastered or have a PhD in, and now they’re stuck at square one with a huge amount of debt. Fucked.
One person in particular wrote to me and said this: (paraphrased)
“I’m $180,000 in student loan debt, 25, completely broke, unemployed, living back at home with my mom in my childhood bedroom, and have no friends. But I have a handy dandy law/PhD/masters/MBA degree, but the job prospects are awful. Help?”
And you know, it made me think about a lot of the people I know who go to graduate school.
Many of my friends have dropped out, are currently getting their asses kicked by the debt, or they did their MBA to make mommy and daddy happy.
And that’s when I realized that for many of us, graduate school is a complete waste of time and money. As I see it, here are the top seven reasons.
#1 You Have no Fucking Idea What You Want From Life… And Graduate School is the Slowest, Worst and Most Expensive Way to Figure That Out
Let’s start with #1 – quite possibly the truest, most important point I’m going to make.
Many of you are going to graduate school because you don’t know what you want from life. You think that going to graduate school is “just what people do.” Maybe you like school and you find it easy – easier than the “real world.” Maybe you think it’ll give you that extra year (or a few) to figure things out.
The reality is that by going to graduate school, you’re potentially risking spending $180,000 to realize you didn’t like a job. (read: unless you end up making 100K+ a year, there’s a very good chance you’ll die in debt).
Let’s say you’re one of those people who hates your job. You want to go into another industry. Your immediate though is “graduate school!” WRONG.
Here’s how to break into an industry without 2+ years of classes and debt.
Except not really.
You start doing research on the types of industries that interest you.
Find a specific company. Let’s say Zappos. Then you go through the positions in the company – like here.
You’re not looking for jobs – you’re looking for the exact position that aligns with your strengths, and what you want.
And then you do some spywork – either do it yourself, or hire someone on elance – get the contact info of every product manager (if you are interested in product management), or the head of the design team (if that’s what you’re into), and then email that specific person, showing how you can help the company.
None of this “give me 5 minutes of your time” bullshit. Who the fuck wants to GIVE you their time? No one. Especially when they’re busy as hell and more important than you.
Email them like this:
I can help boost your home page conversions by at least 20%, which will increase revenue by 10% on your product. In my previous job at < experience > I did this, and < achieved XYZ result >.
If you’re interested in hearing more, do you have 5 minutes this Thursday at 3pm EST or Monday at 12:30 pm, EST?
Always give a specific time – if you leave it up to the busier person to suggest a time/place to meet, they won’t respond. I guarantee it.
So – you figure out what you want from life via constant experimentation. If you want to break into a new industry, start checking out what kinds of skills you need.
If you want to change from Biology to marketing, then BEGIN learning marketing skills.
There’s no point in my repeating an already great article, so check out this article from Michael Ellsberg on Tim Ferris’s blog: 8 Steps to Getting What You Want (Without Formal Credentials).
It will show you how to break into a new industry and get the skills required to excel in a new industry (without grad school).
The reality is that if you want to find out what job you’re meant for, even if it requires credentials, the best way to learn is to start talking to people in the field. Email them. Call them. Ask to shadow them. Do EVERYTHING they would do. Try to see what a day in the life is like before you invest 150k to realize you hate it.
#2 Going to Graduate School and Getting Your MBA Because You Don’t Know “What to do Next” is a Shitty Excuse for Figuring out What You DO Want.
Alright. So the first one was mostly work related. You want to change jobs or dunno “what’s next” in terms of challenges.
But let me remind you of something: graduate school is an insanely-fucking-expensive and slow way of figuring out what you do want.
It’s like being in a placeholder relationship because you don’t know what you want. “Ohh well at least I’m getting some booty and have a sleep over buddy until I find someone I really like.”
If it were free, then I could understand people doing it, but it’s not. It’s hella expensive. And it doesn’t even necessarily guarantee it’ll increase your chances of finding a job.
The reality is that you’re probably taking the easy way out – it’s a lot easier to just enroll in grad school and once again be in school and avoid the hard questions in life, rather than face the reality and start making progress in your own life.
What do you actually want?
(If you want to navel gaze and think about life, a year abroad would probably be a better investment. Don’t think it’ll solve your problems though).
#3 You’re Chasing Credentials Thinking it’ll Earn You More Money… but That’s not Necessarily true
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