For a couple weeks now I’ve been running my “Career Inspiration Interview Series”. One of the questions in the series is “Does your education (high school, college or graduate degree) matter in terms of the work that you do today?”
A common answer is “yes, but indirectly”. Education’s value appears to be largely in the
credibility and connections it provides. The value is not always as apparent in the content of the
curriculum itself. School teaches the language of a subject. Experience teaches mastery.
With this in mind I offer to you my top three reasons for graduate school.
1) A degree is a required hurdle for entry into your profession of interest.
A variety of professions contain an educational barrier to entry including: lawyer, doctor, nurse,
engineer, accountant, teacher, veterinarian, and psychologist. If you want to work in any of these fields the relevant degree comes with the territory. (Please investigate the end profession
thoroughly before investing in the education.)
2) A degree builds credibility or opens up possibilities for advancement in your field.
An advanced degree is a socially respected commodity. Obtaining a Masters degree or PhD in
your field can open up more opportunities or lead to advancement within your company.
3) You want to build your network of colleagues in your field.
Building a network is a valuable endeavor. You’ve probably heard the concept that most jobs are obtained from personal connection rather than a formal interview process. Increasing your
contacts in your field of interest increases your likelihood of employment. Of course, education
is just one way to build your network. Participating in organizations, reaching out to people
you’re interested in getting to know, and attending conferences are other methods for building a
I notice that graduate school is often used as a filler when young professionals don’t know what
to do. After all, people respect schooling. The process is all laid out in front of you. All you have to do is work hard at connecting the dots.
I would challenge you to avoid using graduate school as a filler simply because it presents the
most well lit path. Instead, pursue graduate school with intentionality. Know why you are there
and what you are trying to get out of it. It’s a costly proposition that does offer plenty of rewards. Yet the rewards are greatest when graduate school is pursued with purpose.