When not to go to grad school

collage of Egyptian movie postersI know basically all international development jobs want a Master’s degree. (It’s an unfair winnowing-out technique that favors people who can pay for grad school, and it sucks.) But that doesn’t mean grad school is right for you. Don’t go to grad school if:

1 – You aren’t sure which degree you want. This is an expensive process that will take years of your life, and different degrees lead to every different opportunities. Do not go to grad school if you are still trying to pick a degree. If are unable to find a job with just a bachelor’s degree, look for unpaid internships (also an unfair technique). Spending some time in the development industry is almost guaranteed to clarify which degree you need.

2 – You graduated this May. I know it’s scary when your life is no longer measured in semesters, but just no. Take a year, minimum, and do something else. It will make you a stronger applicant for top schools, a better student when you get there, and improve your attractiveness as a job candidate when your degree is complete. The only exception is if you have a full scholarship to get your degree right now. In that case, take the free money and do it.

3 – You can’t find a job, and you are hoping the degree will help. A graduate degree helps when you have hit a career plateau. It helps you get to the next level. If you can’t find a job right now with your current profile, then your current profile plus a master’s degree isn’t going to fix it. It’s just going to put you further into debt. (If you have been hunting for more than six months and can’t find any job at all, send me an email and I’ll troubleshoot with you as best as I can. Don’t worry about rates, if I can fix it over email for you I will.)

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