Why Go To Grad School?

Let’s cut to the cold facts! The days are long over in America when you could graduate from high school (maybe) and have a reasonable chance to secure a well-paying blue or white collar job that came complete with a living wage and good benefits. Gone are the years where pensions were all but guaranteed and one could expect that if they remained productive, they would remain employed.

Today’s society is a radically different one than the society that Americans experienced over the past 60 years. The American Dream has been replaced in the 21st century with the American Reality. The most menial jobs, both blue and white collar, now require the attainment of a four-year Bachelor’s degree. Productivity does not guarantee employment. In fact, companies have learned to be more productive with less staff (self-checkout lines, anyone?). Most jobs that come with benefits require a higher employee contribution towards those benefits than ever before. Pensions have become nearly extinct, replaced with 401k plans that place the responsibility of saving for a healthy retirement on the employee and hands their life savings to the mega casino that is the stock market.

Graduate school used to be the pathway to an additional credential that would advance one’s career but it was not a necessity. In today’s American Reality, a graduate degree is more important than ever.

Universities, understanding the trend, have proliferated graduate degree programs at an astonishing rate, offering the marketplace varying levels of quality and niches to pique their interests. Whether you want to study fashion accessories design, business, or special education, you can find a graduate program that you can take online, on-campus, or sometimes even via correspondence. Graduate programs have become cash cows for universities that are reeling from strained finances and understand how a Master’s degree or Ph.D. now translates into a great deal of additional earning power for its graduates. If you got a full scholarship in undergrad and are expecting the same level of financial support for your master’s or doctoral degree, most data suggests you will be disappointed. We will post another article soon discussing financing grad school which we hope will remove some of the mystery from that process.

The conclusion you should draw from the context provided above is simple: to enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle with maximum earning power, you need to attend graduate school and achieve a degree. Unless you’re developing a lucrative business idea, plan to go pro in sports, or have an album release or reality TV show in the pipeline, graduate school is the only conduit to a comfortable lifestyle in the years ahead.

In addition to these more pragmatic reasons to achieve a graduate degree, grad school also serves as an opportunity to expand your knowledge base and develop the critical thinking skills needed to thrive in the new employment landscape that we face in America. Undergraduate programs are becoming less effective at producing and developing critical thinkers who can adapt to the changing needs of employers. Undergraduate curricula are often outdated and outmoded and faculty are being stretched thin between research and teaching duties. The result is a large population of people with college degrees, even from our best institutions, who are qualified on paper for many jobs, but who still aren’t equipped with the needed skills and knowledge base.

To summarize, you should go to grad school because you need to develop the critical thinking abilities required by the 21st century workplace. Additionally, the requirements for entry-level, low-skill jobs continue to increase. Finally, to provide the financial stability and economic mobility that you seek, a graduate degree is the key which unlocks the door to prosperity. There is a forthcoming post on how to select a graduate program that will ensure you achieve the goals you have in mind.

Think Grad School is here to help you navigate the process of selecting a graduate degree program and getting yourself admitted. We welcome all questions as we are committed to your success. Please subscribe to our updates as we post additional information to aid your graduate school search.