Getting multiple degrees has become the new “it” thing for the uber-unemployed millennial generation. Graduate school represents a safe haven for creation away from the “real-world” of administrative office workers, aspiring baristas, endlessly tired dispatch agents, and other professions often available to young, fresh-minds with Bachelor’s Degrees that are, sadly, not often teeming with endless opportunity and monetary recompense. That graduate school applications are on the rise dramatically every single year clearly demonstrates that young people all over the globe are desperately seeking a new occupational situation with their lives.
Unfortunately, the biggest lie you have been told about graduate school is that you will be handed a great job by the end of it all. If this is true, why are there over 5,000 janitors in the US alone with PhDs? How come these super talented ultra-educated young enthusiastic brilliant minds can not even secure job interviews?
Without doubt, graduate school CAN open up new opportunities for you. It is too bad that these opportunities come in a neatly tied bow atop an ugly Pandora’s Box of startling graduate school truths. Here are our top ten below.
10. Graduate School Students Are Often Tortured Human Beings
I know you have heard many of your graduate school friends say to you “Yeah, I really love graduate school!” Unfortunately, the majority of these friends and beloved ones are likely just putting on a face – the majority of graduate students are poor, in debt, completely stressed over research (aka homework), and heavily reliant on Federal loans or PARENT loans. These young aspiring heroes of tomorrow, usually in their mid 20s to mid 30s, are living unconsciously to the tune of overwhelming stress and feelings of utter hopelessness.
Don’t believe me?
According to a study cited in this article, of the 28,000 students who participated in the study, nearly half said they felt “hopeless,” and nearly ⅘ of them stated they felt “overwhelmed” by the work they had to do in graduate school. It’s not wonder that many schools these days offer on-campus psychological help for their students – they are working them to the point of utter torture!
9. Your Best Friends In Graduate School Are Your Fiercest Competitors
There’s no question, a healthy level of friendly competition amongst friends, whether it be in recreational sports, playing multiplayer video games, or even over a casual game of cards is an essential component of human life. That said, in graduate school, your best friends and closest colleagues are most likely people who are in the same degree path as you. Why is this so? People tend to socialize more with others that have congruent tastes, aspirations, and interests.
Imagine though, that you go to graduate school for oboe performance, and you have ten other oboe students as classmates in your graduating class. Imagine having to perform in front of each other for a weekly studio class (music majors, you know what I am talking about), participate in all of the same competitions, apply for all of the same PhD programs, and yes, even apply for all of the same income streams that your best friends do. This inevitably creates a very unhealthy and exceedingly high level of competition.
And it’s hardly just music majors, obviously – people in law school, business schools, marketing programs, and all sorts of majors are all supremely competitive with their closest colleagues. Your best friends in graduate school will do anything to make sure they can win the opportunities so that they cannot. It makes you wonder this one question: when in graduate school, who can you trust?
8. The Student Debt Ceiling In 2014 Is Filthily Absurd
Some people are lucky and have their parents pay off all of their student loans. Some other people are lucky and receive partial or full tuition scholarships, as well as free housing. I would consider these aforementioned people the privileged “1%” of graduate school goers.
For the rest of the world, the student debt ceiling has become limitlessly and filthily absurd. For a top private college, tuition, boarding, and miscellaneous expenses have easily risen to approximately $45,000 per year, making students loans commonly rise, after just an undergraduate degree, as high as nearly $100,000.00, or according to these horror stories, even more.
Can you imagine having $100,000.00 in debt, then choosing to go to graduate school? This is especially bad if you are an artist, writer, or “library science” major, all three of which are common graduate school majors whose employment outlooks are particularly horrendous.
7. Unless You Absolutely Love to Be Lectured, You Will Be Bored Out of Your Mind
I suppose some people enjoy lectures. Especially in a topic they are passionate about. But let’s get real here – unless your teacher speaks like she is in the midst of a passionate TED talk every single time he or she is performing the lecture, you will be forced to sit through an agonizing series of boring, in-depth, detailed, and sometimes very possibly useless lectures that delve deep into the abysses of academic niches.
Translation? You will often be engaged in writing, thinking, learning, speaking, and endlessly hearing about subjects that have very little relevance to you making money as soon as you leave graduate school. With $100,000.00 in debt from your undergraduate degree, and another $60,000 from your graduate degree, don’t you think it is wise to start making money as soon as you graduate from college?
6. You Can’t Trust Anyone
I already talked about how your best friends are your fiercest competitors who will do anything to win the coveted awards, prizes, accolades, approval, and jobs in your industry so you cannot win them. But did you know that is another very serious, very real competitor looming in the hallways of your dear academic institution?
That’s right – students often compete with professors for the same accolades as well. Don’t believe me? A Princeton student won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013. That is a prize notoriously handed out to academicians in all fields, almost always professors, not students!
And yet, student scientists often want to be published in the same journals as their teachers, student poets dream of a New Yorker feature as much as their hustling, accomplished professors do, student marketers work day in and day out to be hired for the same professional consulting gigs their professors do. I am not saying that professors cannot help you achieve your goals, however, when you align yourself closest to the people who desire the same exact things that you do, it is difficult for them to want to help you achieve your goals when they have the same goals to achieve, and thus, it is difficult to build trust.
Some absolutely valid points, but the disparaging tone this article developed isn’t called for. Thankfully most students intelligent enough to be considering grad school will be able to make the call for themselves. Don’t be so pessimistic man, grad school can be a great opportunity for a lot of people, even as ridiculously expensive as it is.
You have noted some very important downsides to graduate school, high costs, stress, health risks and unemployment. But lets get something straight, the main difference between graduate school and undergraduate programs is the students. Nowadays most jobs require a bachelors degree in some field, and the end result, students who are not passionate and driven will only attend an undergraduate program. First of all, your unemployment statistics are irrelevant, because there is a wide range of career choices. The visual arts program for example, will skyrocket the unemployment rates of PHD students, that’s why a general statistic is completely irrelevant. Most graduate students will have a much better chance of employment purely due to their higher credentials. If two people were to send in resumes for a management position, one person completed a Bachelors degree in business and one completed a masters, than the ladder would have a higher chance of getting the job. That said, if you are a solid student, who is not shy and can nail the interview than a graduate degree would make your application golden. Whereas an undergraduate student would be placed in the league with those who may not be as confident and skilled at interviews.”It takes away your identity,” that is completely ludicrous, if anything it CAN give you your identity. Let’s admit, life is what you make it, and for many people who are passionate graduate studies allows them to demonstrate to a future employer that they are extremely interested in a specific field. As well as the large amount of knowledge they have acquired in this field due to their graduate studies. Overall, I think this article is useful, aside from the specific points which made unrealistic and illogical statements (1,3,6).
I agree that while you make some valid points about the investment of time, money, and resources, this is written from an unnecessarily negative perspective. There are also positive aspects of graduate school. For one, many graduate students return to school after working in a particular field for some time and wish to further their education and employment prospects. At this point in a person’s life, he or she has likely set him or herself up to be successful, and are making a conscious choice to pursue a higher degree. People who pursue degrees at the doctoral level are generally highly driven and ambitious. While there is some degree of competition, I think finding the right fit is a crucial component of graduate study. If you do your due diligence while researching schools and programs, you will find an environment that allows you to be productive and happy.