Is Grad School Worth It?

Like many other twenty somethings, I finished my undergraduate degree right in the heart of our so-called Great Recession. Graduating with my Bachelors was something that I had anticipated for most of my life, yet instead of graduating with a sense of accomplishment and pride, I felt a mixture of relief and dread.

Toward bigger and better things?

During my college years, I watched Obama acquire his first nomination and first seat in office, and watched many of my fellow college students fall deeper into debt as the cost of college rose and the promise of jobs after graduation fell. Initially, I thanked my lucky stars and God that I knew where I was headed: straight for the security of a professional program and the security of a long-term relationship that whose long distance days would finally be over. I thought that the program would buy the economy some more time to turn around, and that by the time I truly finished my schooling, the job market would be a friendlier place.

It’s a funny thing: seems like almost everybody’s best laid plans get rewritten at some point. The year following my undergraduate graduation was that time for me Actually, I’m arguably still in that time, but for now, I’m going to claim the worst has come and gone. Two months after graduation, my boyfriend and I broke up, and two weeks later, I started my graduate program.

I made it through that year after graduating trying to process where I was going. It took me the entire year to admit to myself that I needed to let go of many of the plans I’d held for myself, a self-confession that resulted in me withdrawing from my graduate program two quarters shy of my Masters. I took time off to find my passion, to work with people, and to try to discover a new dream. I’ve got something in the works, but I’m coming back to this question, is grad school worth it? 

I spend lots of time these days researching schools, programs, and ideas. I started my graduate program before because I’d believed for many years that that was the right course for me. Now, I am trying to be intentional about my learning, and I think this time it may be more beneficial to learn outside a classroom in a way that will give me the knowledge I need without the cost of tuition. If I decide that graduate school is worth it, it’s quite possible that I will try to re-enroll and finish the program I started. These are things to be pondered over the next few weeks and months, for I surely do not know the answer right now.

What do you think about graduate school? Is there a cost benefit, an intellectual benefit that makes loans and all those extra studying hours worth it, or, even, is the idea of returning to the sanctuary of academia comforting to you when so many other things look uncertain?

*This post and others like it also exists at Life Here at Twenty Something