This blog post discusses how I arrived at my decision to not attend graduate school. Instead I am focusing on acquiring skills that create value.
First, the graduate programs I looked at did not offer a clear value proposition. It goes without saying that graduate school is expensive. To my surprise, the programs I considered were way too similar to the undergraduate courses I had taken. What value would I gain from getting the exact knowledge I did in my undergraduate studies? I graduated with a degree in international relations. I took interesting classes, conducted extensive research and wrote papers. Other than writing, my skillset was way too general for a workforce that needs specific skills.
I lacked the enthusiasm to write academic papers. In a recent writing workshop with the prolific writer, Dan Sanchez, I learned that school kills creativity in writing. Writing is supposed to be playful. However, academic writing is often the opposite. My senior year, I wrote a thesis; a fulfilling yet trying experience. Understandably, I could not envision myself writing another academic paper of that caliber in Masters program, or PhD program. Funnily, I have received feedback that I would make a great professor. I love people, I love talking ideas and I love reading. Honestly, it does sound great. It is a prestigious position, and one travels to conduct research in areas of interest. Despite all these silver linings in the academia cloud, I still did not have the motivation to go for another degree.
In truth, a graduate degree would have been a cop out for me. It would have been what I did because I was devoid of the skills the marketplace was looking for. While most Praxis participants are deciding not to go to college at all, I already graduated from college. These kids are wise enough to know that proving you can create value is better than presenting an academic credential. They are creating value in sales and marketing, through graphic design, and video editing. All without a four year degree. For instance, the work this 16-year old does puts her 10 years ahead of her peers. What value would I have created had I started gaining tangible skills at her age, instead of memorizing information to pass tests? Imagine if coding, web development, SEO, and video editing were taught in school. We would have a more apt workforce.
Luckily, I also met individuals who encouraged me to gain more work experience before going back to academia. In the international development industry, a graduate degree is a requirement for most entry level jobs. Work experience is also a requirement. If you try to gain work experience before the graduate degree, they ask for the degree. If you go to graduate school and then come back to apply for the job, they want to see some work experience. Do you see the catch 22 here? I believe having a graduate degree as a requirement is just a way to narrow the pool of applicants. Just because one has two pieces of paper from two universities does not mean they are up to the task.
Now that I have learned that the only ‘degree’ one needs is to create value, I will do that for the rest of my life. There is an enormous amount of information on the internet to learn anything that one wishes to. For instance, check out this free MBA book by Josh Kaufman. Conventional school taught me how to fit in, but thanks to them, I found the path to standing out. This path is leading to professional and personal fulfillment.
Challenge To You
If you are a college graduate considering graduate school, look into programs like Praxis instead. When I first learned of it, I was skeptical too. I thought it may be a scam. How could one possibly get a $50,000 a year job without a college degree? However, once you join the community, you understand that getting a job is only the beginning of the growth you will experience. It completely alters your mindset.
The community is teeming with young entreprenuers, great thinkers, talented musicians, prolific writers, coders, among other talents. As I have mentioned elsewhere, my application process directly led to the founding of Dadas Lounge. Moreover, on reading this post on my website, a Business Partner wants to interview me. I also scored a freelance editing role for a digital marketing company by editing some of the content on their website, unsolicited. That’s the kind of mindset that Praxis gives you. Graduate school? Not so much.
Disclaimer: if you want to be a lawyer, or doctor go to graduate school. Unfortunately apprenticeships don’t exist for that in the current society. Perhaps if it were the 11th century, you would be able to apprentice and become as unstoppable as “The Great Doctor.”
Thanks for reading. Come by again.