Over and over again I find myself returning to the idea of continuing my education with a graduate degree. Over and over again I find myself deciding not to.
My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Human Development. Building a career in either of these fields requires more schooling. Why would I choose them as my area of study without committing myself to seeing it through?
I chose psychology because, for me, it has always been psychology that drew my interest. I had the privilege of holding a human brain during my AP Psychology class my senior year of high school and that pretty much sealed the deal; nothing else really compared to that experience. Human behavior is one of the most fascinating things I've ever encountered and quite frankly, I couldn’t see myself studying anything else.
Throughout my undergraduate career, I toyed with adding another major or minor, and even got my feet wet a few times. I considered finding another less-committal, more-marketable major. I took a few different classes, but nothing else could hold my attention like a psychology course. My favorite psychology course I ever took was Psychology of Organizational Processes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take it until my senior year, not that it mattered much anyway as it was the only Industrial/Organizational course offered at my institution.
Upon graduation, I made the decision to take a six month break (which I highly recommend to everyone). After a hectic and less than enjoyable senior year, I desperately needed time to get back in touch with the part of me that wanted to learn for fun and that enjoyed the process rather than the part of me that sought to check the requirements off of my four-year plan. I needed to take time for myself to understand my values and to understand where I wanted to be career-wise five and ten years from now.
As you can imagine, this is where grad school comes into play. To make use of my psychology degree, whether as a school counselor or a social worker (my two preferred paths), I would need to attend grad school. I spent time over these next few months looking into programs both near and far, making phone calls, and gathering information. But in the end, instead of committing, I deferred.
I couldn’t see myself in sitting through more lectures or spending hours and hours in small groups discussing nuances of a particular subject. That kind of learning no long appeals to me. As it turns out, I’ve decided the world is my classroom.
Following my six month break (which stretched until the end of 2012, mind you), I officially decided grad school wasn’t for me, at least not at this point in my life. So I started a business instead.
I founded an online magazine, GenTwenty in early 2013 and have been nurturing it ever since. When I first started out, I knew nothing. Not even the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. There is still a lot I don’t know, but everyday is a new exciting learning experience where I can follow my specific passions, embrace my natural creativity, and do it all on my own terms at my own pace. And I'm lucky enough that other people believe in it too.
Earlier this year, I applied to several MBA programs driven by the desire increase my business acumen. But as history tends to do, things repeated themselves. I read over curriculums, talked to MBA students, MBA grads, and seasoned business professionals. My instincts told me that while it won’t be an easy journey, the information and experiences I need and so desperately crave do not come with a tuition bill.
This isn't to say an MBA may not be the right path for you, simply, it's not the right path for me at this time. Instead, I have found the most helpful information and the most inspiration in podcasts, on blogs, and in interviews with entrepreneurs. Prologue Profiles is a recent favorite that I enjoy listening to.
I know I keep coming back to the idea of grad school because I have the desire to learn. School gives us structure and provides a safe place to do so with feedback mechanisms built in. The world is not so kind. The consequences of failing to adapt are much higher, there is no financial aid package to see you through, there is no four-year plan to guide you. You are on your own.
Whether or not you need a graduate degree is dependent on both your desired career path as well as what you plan to do. After all, there are plenty of successful entrepreneurs who have no degree at all. Just as entrepreneurship is not for everyone, grad school is also not for everyone, but that is up to you to decide.
I imagine that I will consider grad school again sometime in the next few seasons of my life. Luckily, my applications remain active for the next two years so I have some time to decide before I need to reapply (that's half the battle, anyway).
Know someone who is undecided about going back to graduate school? Share this article with them or your own thoughts about furthering your own education.