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OPINION: Is grad school a viable option?

With the semester coming to a close comes the inevitable anxiety and uncertainty of joining the workforce. Many students consider graduate school to be a safe option after earning a bachelor's degree because it’s a way to stay in the comfort of academia, but there are several factors to contemplate, such as ultimate career goals, personal fulfillment and the issue of money.

A big draw of grad school is more impressive credentials that can be of great help in today’s extremely competitive job market. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic of the Harvard Business Review said “the most in-demand jobs require graduate credentials, to the point of surpassing current levels of supply.” Chamorro-Premuzic also cited the increasing number of students in higher education as a reason the bachelor’s degree is being effectively devalued.

Pursuing a graduate degree can serve to help you reach your career goals. Race Dillon, a Master of Fine Arts student, came to UNM from Seattle, Washington after years of working in a job he wasn’t passionate about. Dillon, who is studying photography, said coming back for grad school was a decision based on wanting to commit 100% to photography.

“I felt like I had had (photography) as a passion on the side and I felt like I hadn’t really given it the full attention that I wanted to and it’s something that I love,” Dillon said. “I wanted it to be a part of my life more, and so coming to grad school felt like a way to take it more seriously.”

The other side of the argument lies with the notion that grad school is a waste of time. With the steady rise of online learning tools like MasterClass, an online program that offers over 100 classes and a starting price point of just $15 a month, grad school is certainly a more costly and time-consuming process. Free online tools like YouTube and Duolingo, a language-learning app that has free and paid options, also might diminish the need for expensive higher education.

The cost of grad school is in both money and time. If you decide to take that path, it’s best to wait a couple of years, live your life and be positive going to grad school is your best option, according to Dillon.

“I would say waiting is a good idea right after undergrad … because it is a pretty huge undertaking to come to grad school,” Dillon said. “Waiting helps you come in more prepared.”

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy, and we all know how quickly things can turn for the worse with new variants, shutdowns and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unless you are in an extremely financially stable position or are absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt sure that grad school is your most lucrative choice right after graduation, taking the time to explore other options can save you a world of headaches and seemingly insurmountable amounts of student debt.

“If you’re not committed to the subject you’re studying enough to go into debt for a few years, the risk probably isn’t worth the degree,” Chamarro-Premuzic wrote.

All of this being said, there are always conditions that make waiting not possible, like family pressure, scholarships, etc., and if you make a choice that turns out to be not right for you, it isn’t the end of the world.

The most important takeaway? Just take some time to think about it.

Emma Trevino is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @itsemmatr

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