March 1, 2009 3 Comments
I have come across two interesting pieces that take entirely different perspectives about the question of whether to go to graduate school during the recession. The first is a blog entry by Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist, that says going to graduate school is not a smart way to dodge the recession because it saddles students with debt, immobility, and anxiety.
The second piece is a response from my favorite advice columnist, Cary Tennis, who advises a torn letter writer to go to graduate school and pursue his dreams instead of join the military and be useful. (One respondent humorously says, “Grad school has far more crazies than the military.”)
I am sympathetic to both Trunk’s and Tennis’s instincts, and I think maybe I can help, just a little, the torn graduate school applicant by offering some insight about my own experience in the M.S. program at Columbia School of Journalism. Please don’t take what I say as the gospel.
Sometimes I think that I may have jumped the gun and went to journalism school a little too soon, before I tried to pursue it on my own, but then I remember where I was last year: I knew I wanted to write for a career, but I didn’t know what or how, and I figured j-school would help me figure it out. At the time, I wasn’t even married to the idea of being a reporter.
I have gotten a much better sense of the type of reporting I like at Columbia. If I had forced myself to go to a daily in a part of the country or world that I wasn’t even that passionate about, I probably would not have found this. Instead, I would have been doing what I felt I was supposed to do to be successful in journalism, when I wasn’t even sure that is what I wanted.
That said, I have found that graduate school is not the best place to solve career and life uncertainty. I have had to really develop a strong sense of identity to fight against the stress and institutionalism that I can sometimes let get to me, and it is something that I may have done better had I given myself some time to just putz around or travel. Read more of this post