Earlier today, like always, I was on Facebook checking out what all of my friends were up. But unlike most days today I decided to comment. Why today? A friend of mines wrote a question asking “should I go to graduate school”? This got me going. As anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows I think graduate school is a huge waste of time and money. This feeling could extend to the entire college process but, this post is not another rant about why not to go to graduate school. Rather, this is about alternatives ways to create marketable skills and valuable products.
The alternatives can vary widely based on your desired goal, but I will focus this on the 3 major reasons people go to graduate school:
1. to expand or increase your personal network
2. to learn key skills for career advancement
3. to acquire the necessary certification for their career opportunity
I will approach these reasons for attending graduate school in reverse order, starting with acquiring necessary certifications. I believe this is a barrier of the past and companies still following this will stop soon enough. Technology is the first factor to eliminating this mindset as most of the best software coders don’t have advanced degrees if they even have any degree at all and they are in very high demand. Why? These highly skilled people have learned through experience. I believe other industries will follow this trend and find that experiential learning and ad hoc schooling will become the way of the future. Staying with this way of thinking, if you are looking to hire a marketing director for your company, it would make more sense to hire someone that already did it, rather than someone that just graduated graduate school.
How can you get this experience without graduate school? Create a product through a platform like Kickstarter and market it. You marketing it yourself will teach you more than any graduate school could because you will understand the chaos and reality that is the real world. To take it a step further, if you documented your experience through a blog, it would enable you to take your value to a potential employer because, not only would you come in with experience but, a following. This is just one example but, an approach growing in value to perspective employers. Companies will catch on to this more and more over time and the value of a graduate degree will slowly decrease. My advice is not to invest in a depreciating asset.
If you’re looking to graduate school to help build your network, considering blogging. A blog is a great place to begin building a following. Lewis Howes is a perfect example of this (Check out episode 5 of The James Altucher show). Although today, Louis runs his own million dollar a year company. He could have easily worked at any Fortune 500 company because of the network he created by using the internet and it was pretty simple. All he did, was go on LinkedIn and ask high level executives to speak with him about how they got to where they are today. He didn’t ask them for anything, rather he offered to introduce them to other executives who he met through the same process. This enabled him to have one of the best networks available to anyone starting with no money, no job and no opportunities. I recommend anyone looking to go to graduate school to try this first. I bet you will realize gaining a network is easier than you think.
In all of these examples above, I hit on the skills you can acquire through methods outside of graduate school but I guess not explicitly. Well let’s think about it. What do you want to do? You want to become a coder? Go to Codeacademy. You want to do anything related to business? Start something on Kickstarter. You want to learn about nearly anything go to Coursera,Stanford, Harvard,
I know this is a touchy subject and one I usually don’t talk about too much with friends but it is important to think about. Next time you speak to someone who is looking to go to graduate school, ask them why, I am sure what they are seeking can be found on the internet.
What do you think?
I’m sure some people reading this have graduate degrees or are currently pursing one. Why did you go? What do you think of my opinion? Do you hate me now (JK)? But in all seriousness, this is just my opinion and the reason I will never go, but I am curious what you think.