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Can’t Find a Job? Should You Go Back to School for an Advanced Degree? Not on My Watch

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I’ve been out of college for several years now. During this time,  I have witnessed something interesting.  When I graduated, it was in the midst of the Great Recession.  Jobs were tough to come by.  Our graduating class was struggling to gain employment.  Most people went back home and lived with their parents.  And for many, this turned into a semi-permanent arrangement.  

So, what did I witness?  I saw so many friends and fellow graduates opt to go back to school.  They went on to get a Master’s Degree or some other form of advanced degree.  On the surface, there’s nothing really wrong with this decision.  However, I feel like many of them went back to school for the wrong reason: they thought it would solve their employment problem.  “If I had more schooling on my resume, I’d be more in demand for a job.”  Not true.  More schooling isn’t the answer.  

Here’s my take.  If you have student debt that you haven’t paid off from your four year degree and you can’t find a job, why would you want to go back to school and pile up even more debt?  This doesn’t make any logical sense to me because more schooling doesn’t guarantee you anything.  That’s right…nothing.  You aren’t necessarily going to have any easier time finding a job.  Likely, you will simply end up in the same situation you were in (jobless), but you’ll have more student debt.

Ok, buddy, so you’re saying don’t go back to school.  What do I do then?  

Today, we live in a world where you can teach yourself just about anything.  Applying for a job in a specific field?  Awesome!  Go to the library or Barnes and Noble or Amazon and buy yourself the top 10-15 books.  Read them.  Go online and find some specific classes to take.  Go to your local college and just take the classes that will improve your chances of getting a job or increasing your knowledge in that specific field.  You can learn on your own time without investing tens of thousands of dollars into the formal, structured, all-in experience of an advanced degree program.

And you know what?  When you go to interview for a job, you can share with your prospective employer why you don’t have an advanced degree.  They will be impressed that you took the time to think this through and that you are actively learning skills on your own.  It shows them your drive, resourcefulness and commitment.   At my job, I am a big part of the hiring process. I have interviewed more than seventy-five potential employees. Although I do look for advanced degrees for some hires, I’d rather hire someone that told me in an interview that they were: currently reading five books in the field, had already completed five others, and they were starting one specific class at the local college.

So, please.  Before you go back to school, just think it through.  Do you REALLY want that degree?  Will you be able to make the payments on those loans with ease?    Will it really secure you “that” job with “that” company?  If you have any doubt, just start taking the steps to teach yourself.  You’ll thank me for it 10 years from now when you’re not paying off student debt.

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