From running several student-oriented blogs, I know that lots of people are searching for information about grad school. The search keywords that show up in my traffic logs are telling. “Is -name of school- worth it”, “will a degree from -name of school- look good on my resume” or “will a degree from -name of school- help me get a good job” are three common examples that are typed into Google, and end up on my blogs.
But one thing I don’t see nearly as often are searches relating to the quality of the programs in question. This is unfortunate, not only because I spent years blogging about research, readings, classroom exercises, and hands-on projects (all indicators of quality and a window into the experience of the grad school programs I attended), but also because it tells me many people don’t care about quality. Rather, the focus is what hiring managers will think of seeing the diploma or school name on a resume.
It’s sad, because grad school can be a wonderful experience for people who feel passionate about a certain topic or hunger for learning. It’s also a hard academic journey that will derail people’s personal lives and careers.
Devin Cole, writing for the Boston Globe, has a nice take on whether or not someone should go to grad school. He writes:
You may be looking at grad school for engineering, art, or business. Whatever the field may be, go because you want to and are excited by thought of it. Go because you know its worth giving up whatever else you might do for a few years.
Don’t go just to boost your resume.
Don’t go because you think you’ll make more money.
And don’t go because you don’t know what else to do.
In other words, go to grad school for the right reasons. If it’s just about getting a few lines of text on your resume, or improving your standing in the eyes of friends, families, or coworkers, be honest with yourself about your priorities and what really matters in life.