Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Grad School Not A Good Way To Spend 100k

From the mouth of someone who has taught grad school, "Grad School May Not Be the Best Way to Spend $ 100,000".  Let's review what she lists out.  Here big three bad reasons to go to graduate school are:

  • You don't know what you want to do with your life.
  • Because your career has stalled.
  • Because you applied and you got in.
All in all these aren't bad reasons, though I could list many more.  The fact is that she is someone who has a vested interest in individuals going to grad school, after all she doesn't denounce it as a whole, and I am not going to take her to task for that. I don't hate professors or academics but I do know many personally and I understand that they are simply human beings like everyone else. And human beings have a tendency to be unable to separate what is good for them from what is good for everyone else.  Most professors don't want to shunt in people off to degrees that will leave them massively debt and near unemployable; in fact I believe most professors are largely oblivious, or only dimly aware of, this reality that many face. They earnestly believe, not all together untrue, that education yields tremendous benefits. It is true but their mistake is assuming that getting degreed and getting an education are synonymous; they aren't.

This is something that you, as an individual, have to determine. When considering whether or not you should get a bachelors, masters or PhD you need to think about the education, not the degree.  Does going to get you university and taking courses in a particular programs advance your skill sets? Will you learn valuable information or processes that is applicable to a future career? Do you actually learn how to do a job or are you simply learning generalities?  This is why an accounting degree, and to a much lesser extent, a finance degree, is more useful than a marketing or a business management degree. 

In accounting you learn the concept of GAAP and actually apply those concepts in various classes, be it inventory accounting, accounts receivables accounting, or learning to equal out a balance sheet.  While it is true that much of this could simply be learned on the job the reality is that if you want to do accounting for a major company they will require a degree. It is an unfortunate reality of credentialism that we have to deal with but that isn't my point about accounting degrees. Accounting degrees will actually import information, and a skill set, that make you employable. Contrast this with a management degree where you will study the theory of managing employees or businesses without actually ever doing of that. It's all theory text book knowledge and when it comes down to it, who wants that?  If you wanted to build a rocket who would you pick, the person who has a degree in rocket science but no real experience with rockets, or the person who doesn't have a degree but has successfully built and fired rockets before. It's a no brainer.

In the end while knowledge is great to have, experience will trump it every single time.  How does a university education get you the experience you need to do the job you want to do?  In many instances the answer is, it doesn't.

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.