I’m Going to (stay in) Grad School! WOO!

March 3, 2011

I asked the question, perhaps too late, “What can I do with a graduate degree in sociology,”  and the timing was such that I really had to ask, “What can I do with half a graduate degree in sociology.”  Truth be told- nothing.

I spoke to two of my professors last week, and neither really knew what to tell me.  For the reasons I had to stay, I had equally compelling reasons to quit- namely my cost-to-benefit comparison based on passion vs. affordability.  If you are passionate, it’s hard to argue something is “too expensive,” in most situations- but what if you are confused like me?

My professors asked some hard questions:  Did I have something else in mind?  I did not.  Sure- I love to write- but am I confident enough in my skills as they stand to walk away from a possible degree?  I am not sure that starting over at this point and trying to stay afloat based on my entreprenurial skills alone would be wise.  I love to blog and explore different markets and niches- but I feel my inexperience would kill my passion if I were to step out at this point. Having a graduate degree could be beneficial for someone like myself who is at this point in the process.  For those who still have time to choose- take that time and ask lots of really hard questions before you commit.  But of course, sometimes all we can do is to assess the “known unknowns,” and take a step forward.

I also voiced my concerns about the cost of grad school.  They sympathized that costs are high and post-graduation prospects for employment are low- and at least are not up to expectations for newly minted degree holders.  What they did say though, is you can do nothing with half a master’s degree, not even get some kudos for “some graduate level courses” on a resume.  The sad truth is- there is no way to to know if the amount of debt I’m taking on is going to impede my chances to succeed in other areas, nor is a graduate degree an automatic key to success.

The debt itself will not prevent me from affording a wedding, car or hell, a piece of Tiffany, just as the degree itself will not ensure my immediate success- but my efforts outside the classroom will.  The only thing preventing me from being able to afford the life of my dreams is simply my inability to make them happen- and I can work on that.  My time in the classroom (or out of it) will not find me a man to love  or a dream job, nor will my debt stand in the way of buying a house or starting a family or starting my own company if that’s what I choose to do.  What will stand in the way of those things is my fear:  Fear that debt will ruin my future, fear that I’m not on the right path, fear that I’m not making the right choices.  Fear needs to be taken into consideration- it can be a very smart survival tool, but being too cautious blocks progress.

There is no way to gauge your prospects based on having debt or having a degree alone–  you just have to ask questions, evaluate, and take a risk.   The  the best decisions you can and forgive yourself for mistakes of inexperience.  Get your hands dirty- at least you can say it was YOUR mess and have something interesting to say at the high school reunion.

I meticulously planned my path to grad school and based my decision on the person I was at the time.  I had no way of anticipating the process itself would change me in the way it did.  While the reasons I had in coming to graduate school are no longer the reasons I am staying- I am still confident in those decisions.  I am not the person I was a year and a half ago, and I no longer harbor the same motives or goals I did before, and perhaps, that was the point?




9 comments so far.

9 responses to “I’m Going to (stay in) Grad School! WOO!”

  1. “The only thing preventing me from being able to afford the life of my dreams is simply my inability to make them happen- and I can work on that.”
    You are spot on- well done for making this huge dicision!!

  2. Isn’t that strange! I can be writing an email at 1000 words per minute, and then get stuck on a stupidly simple word, like.. ‘definitely’ and I will have to Google the correct spelling.. Shh don’t tell anyone :-p

  3. Cara Stein says:

    Good for you for making a decision! That in itself is powerful.

    > I am not the person I was a year and a half ago, and I no longer harbor the same motives or goals I did before, and perhaps, that was the point?

    This is a great insight! That’s the problem with planning–it only takes you so far. You just have to chart your course the best you can from where you are, then make corrections along the way.

    I like your blog! Cool stuff! 🙂

    • Thanks Cara, as you know I already <3 your blog! I totally agree- planning only works *so* well. It gets to the point that if you fret over the "unknowns" too much you'll never even get started. You just have to press forward knowing there will be mistakes, unexpected events and insights that make you change course. It's part of the journey I suppose! Thanks for visiting!

  4. Jaime says:

    College like anything else is such a risk. One of my friends was telling me that an accounting grad she knew couldn't find a job in accounting. There are no guarantees unfortunately. You just do what you can with the information you have at that particular time.

  5. […] the lean times without losing my mind.  Through the pain of losing someone I loved, going through graduate school and starting over in a new part of the country I had never even been to, much less moving here […]

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