Is Grad School Worth It?

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I’ll admit I’ve been delinquent in my writing recently. I have a good excuse, though — maybe the best excuse. I’ve been on a multi-week, joy-filled, and overwhelming high after attending my 10-year grad school reunion. It really couldn’t have been any better — great friends and amazing people doing amazing things.

Am I one of those people? Sort of — I work in a related field, but it’s not what I went to school for and I went on to get ANOTHER degree after this one that’s required for my current job. (Yes, I be crazy. Way too much schooling.) So I have a somewhat random Master’s degree on my resume that always confuses people and no one’s quite sure what to make of it. To be honest, neither am I.

But was my two-year academic jaunt “worth” it? No question. Would it be “worth” it if I’d had to take on five or even six figures of debt to make it happen? Hard to say — I was extremely lucky to have scholarship/fellowship assistance that covered my tuition and some of my living expenses. I also worked throughout school to cover anything “extra” and, as many grad students do, lived in the cheap part of town in a big house with lots of roommates.

But now, looking back ten years, would I pay $30,000 (or more) to have that experience again? Absofrickinglutely. It’s kind of amazing that way. While I’m adamantly opposed to debt, grad school was one of those experiences for me (granted, not for everyone) is priceless. To learn exactly what I was excited about learning, surrounded by incredibly smart, driven people who were excited about the same things with a passion for making the world a better place, and to have a boatload of fun while doing it, was incredible. And to now have a network of incredibly close friends who are kicking butt in a field I still have tremendous respect (and, I’ll admit, envy) for, it pretty rad.

I recognize there’s a lot of hyperbole in this post, but I mean every word. I also recognize that for many people this is incredibly bad advice. Not every degree is worth getting, not every school worth attending, and taking on debt is certainly something that should be approached with great caution. But if you’re on the fence about a program at a great school where you know you’re excited about the subject and you know you’ll be surrounded by other people who are equally excited, AND you’ve got the financial wherewithal to take it on (whether through scholarships, savings, or a VERY HIGH LIKELIHOOD of being able to pay off your loans quickly after graduating), I say go for it. It might have been the stupidest thing I ever did, but it was also, hands down, the best.

 

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