THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Grad school: What's wrong with it now, or anytime

A recession is typically a good time for graduate schools because people see them as safe shelter from the storm. But, in fact, grad school creates larger, and more insurmountable problems. And some the problems you're trying to solve with grad school might not be problems at all.

1. Grad school pointlessly delays adulthood.

The best thing you can do for yourself is take time to figure out who you are and where you fit in the world. No one teaches you that in school. You need to do it yourself. Grad school is a way to delay this process, rather than move you forward, according to Thomas Benton of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

2. PhD programs are pyramid schemes

It's very hard to get a job teaching at a university, and if you are not going to teach, why are you getting a degree? In the arts, you would have a better chance of surviving the Titanic than getting a tenure-track position. And once you adjust for IQ, education, and working hours, post-PhD science jobs are among the most low-paying. You don't need a piece of paper to show that you are learning. Go read books after work.

3. Business school is not going to help 90% of the people who go.

Here's the problem with business school. Most people want to work for themselves, but you can't learn entrepreneurship in school– you have to learn by doing. And a business degree that is not from a top school is not going to get you very much at all, according to recruiting firm Challenger & Gray.

4. Law school is a factory for depressives.

Law school selects for people who are good with details and pass tests. However, law firms select for people who are good at marketing themselves and can drum up business. Law firms are in a transition phase, and they have many unfair labor practices left over from older generations, for example, hourly billing and making young lawyers pay dues for what is, today, a largely uncertain future. Which might explain why the American Bar Association reports that the majority of lawyers would recommend that people not to go into law.

5. The medical school model assumes that health care spending is not a mess.

Medical school is extremely expensive, and our health care system does not pay enough to doctors to sanely accept the risk of taking on $200,000 in debt. Specialists like opthalmologists have great hours, and plastic surgeons have great salaries, but most doctors will be stuck in a broken system that could easily break them financially– like OBGYNs who cannot afford to deliver babies because they can't afford the insurance.

6. Going to grad school is like going into the military.

Applications to the military increase in a bad economy in a disturbingly similar way that applications to graduate school do. For the most part, both alternatives limit your future in ways you can't even imagine.

7. You can learn from any job.

When I worked on a French chicken farm, I thought I'd learn French, but I did learn a lot of other things, like how to bargain to get the best job in the chicken coop, and how to get out of killing bunnies. You don't need to be learning the perfect thing in your job. You just need to be learning.

8. Graduate school forces you to overinvest.

People who are in their twenties today will change careers about four times in their life. That means grad school is a steep investment for such a short reward period. The grad school model needs to change to adapt to the new workplace. Until then, stay away.


Penelope Trunk has started several companies and worked for many more.



It sounds like this article was written by someone who couldn't get grants or scholarships to attend graduate school and is now very bitter about it. With even entry level jobs now requiring a four year degree(because employers know they have that option in this economy), having a masters degree helps you stand out from the crowd of sad-sack unemployed college graduates. The key is to keep at least a part time job or internship while attending graduate school instead of expecting your degree to speak for itself.

Do you just recycle articles every few months? A very similar piece was published in this paper back in June of 2008. Maybe if you had attended graduate school you would have a few original ideas.

The truth hurts.