There’s a common scenario that I’ve seen play out in a number of people, including myself: You feel stuck in your career, unable to take that next step. You’re not sure what’s holding you back, and you’re getting frustrated about what you can do to change it. Maybe you’re not even sure about what your next step should be…you take a long, hard look in the mirror and decide – “I should go to grad school.”
The feeling that an MBA or other Masters degree will act as the missing link and open previously locked doors seems logical, but you’d be making a huge mistake.
Why going back to school isn’t the answer…
A Master’s Degree Isn’t A Magic Bullet
True, just about everyone has a Bachelor’s degree these days. But an advanced degree isn’t as special as it once was, and it’s surely no guarantee of you landing a bigger and better job.
I’m not saying getting a Master’s degree is totally worthless. I’m saying that getting one for lack of better options or ideas is going to be a decision you’ll likely regret. The cost of a graduate degree is constantly rising and if you’re going to pay $30,000 – $100,000 for a degree, you want to have some reassurance that it will get you the job or salary you’ve been searching for. In the end it’s just another line or two on your resume, not a neon sign signaling an employer to hire you. Don’t chase a degree hoping that it will lead to a better job and more money, it’s not always the case.
Grad School Won’t Provide Clarity On What You Want To Do With Your Life
If you went through 4 years of undergrad and couldn’t figure out what path you wanted to take, what makes you think 2 or more years of grad school will provide the answer? I’m willing to bet that deep down you know it won’t; but it’s a safe, respectable way to postpone the inevitable. It’s not worth it to bury yourself in student loan debt so you can grasp at straws deciding what direction your career should take. Grad school is one of the slowest, most expensive and least effective ways to figure your life out.
What will help you decide what the hell you want to do with your life is to get introspective. What are your skills and strengths? What do you like and dislike about your current job? What values and beliefs do you hold highest? etc…
Once you have a clear goal in mind, then you can decide if a graduate degree is the key to attaining it.
Maybe A Professional Certification Is A Better Option
Sometimes there are ways you can make yourself more attractive to employers without a graduate degree. Depending on your field, certain professional certifications will have a greater impact on your career potential than a degree will.
Becoming a CPA, CFA, CFP, or whatever 3 letter acronym applies to your field will often have a greater “bang for the buck” when it comes to your career. The catch is that professional certifications are very specialized and require you to have an even better grasp on your career goals than a graduate degree would.
An MBA Won’t Make You A Better Entrepreneur
I’ve had at least 2 friends of mine contemplate going back for their MBA because they thought it would help them start their own business.
An MBA (or any other degree) has absolutely NO bearing on whether or not you’ll be successful as an entrepreneur, you’ll just be wasting a lot of time and money that could have been better spent building your business.
Steve Jobs was a college dropout. I highly doubt he ever wished he had an MBA when he was running Apple. There is no college course that can teach you how to run a business better than jumping in and doing it. When the survival of your business depends on your learning how to market, sell and keep the books, you’ll get a better education than any professor can provide.
I don’t mean for it to sound like I’m against furthering your education and earning a graduate degree. For many people a grad school or an MBA is the right move. People with graduate degrees do earn more money over the life of their careers. But those people didn’t get that degree because they just didn’t know what to do next.
If you know that an MBA or other graduate degree is what you need to take the next step in your career, by all means do it! If you’re just tossing around the thought of grad school because you’re running out of ideas stop and figure things out first. Burying yourself in student loan debt because you didn’t know what else to do could be one of the worst career moves you’ll ever make.
Readers: Do you have an MBA or other grad degree? Have you ever thought about going back to school because you felt stuck in your career?