Grad School: Snooze Button or Good Idea?

Dale: J.T. and I have frequently asked tough questions of readers who are pondering a return to school, especially those considering a graduate degree. I always repeat that zippy little line, “Grad school is the snooze button on the alarm clock of life,” and then urge the reader to seek out people currently holding jobs they aspire to and ask if a degree is REALLY required. However, staying open-minded, I was intrigued when we heard from Greg Grauberger, who is with the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver and who’s written an engaging discussion on going straight into grad school versus working a few years and coming back. He argues for going straight to grad school because you:

—are now “as book-smart as you’ll ever be,”

—probably have fewer commitments (spouse, children, mortgage) and more time than you will later,

—can use university resources, especially internships, to gain experience and create a network, and you

—have lower “opportunity costs” (meaning that your lost income from being away from work is less now than it would be later).

J.T.: Excellent points … IF you truly need the degree. I routinely tell people that they shouldn’t get a grad degree unless they can prove 300 percent that it makes sense. If the degree is not required but merely nice to have … well, is it ever a good time to buy what you don’t need?

Dale: Greg doesn’t duck that issue, suggesting a decision via “career trajectory” with and without the degree — two, five and 10 years out. It’s a discussion worth having, and Greg has allowed us to reprint his article at Who knows? Given the state of the job market, this might just be the ideal time to hit the snooze button and wake up to a better economy.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of Dale Dauten’s latest book is “(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success” (John Wiley & Sons). Please visit them at, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2009 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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