Friday, July 15, 2011

"To be, or not to be, that is the question:"

My internal monologue is in a fight with itself.
It can’t decide whether or not it wants to pursue grad school.
It’s been thinking about it ever since it was in college.
It has always thought this was the path for it.
It now has its doubts.

Now that I’ve exhausted my need to talk in the third/odd person, I’ll get real. Academics have always been an integral part of who I am. If I wasn’t making a ridiculously intense study guide for a test that only counted for 5% of my grade, I was overachieving on a PowerPoint presentation with just the right amount of bells and whistles. CSOM at the University of Minnesota requires that you work for two years in a real, big-girl (or guy) position before attempting graduate school. Naturally, my path was going to be to graduate, work for two years, then apply for graduate school. I even was going to take my GMAT and apply early to ensure that I would begin class at the start of the end of my two years of working. Wrong.

It has now officially been two years and a month since I began working in my big-girl job. And while I still have the GMAT in the back of my mind, the test preparation book is collecting dust on my bookshelf that is crowded with materials I actually want to read.

I’ve been looking a lot to the people who surround me for inspiration or motivation in one direction or another.
Two of my best friends are in the psychology field, so basically grad school is already on their life plate. I think this has slightly influenced me. If my friends are going to be so highly educated, maybe I should be too.
Another friend who studied himself crazy for the LSAT for months decided that he actually didn’t want to take it, nor did he want to be a lawyer at all. Then, he moved to Taiwan to study Chinese.
Yet another friend went to grad school and now cannot find a job.
Then I have all my friends who are happily working and would not go back to school even if they were paid to.

The pros are:
Learning from professionals with work experience
Meeting new people who have similar interests
Challenging myself to balance work and school
Having the opportunity to study abroad again (a month at most)

The cons are:
Paying ridiculous amounts for tuition
Buying books and other materials
Driving at least an extra hour each day
Paying for parking
Only being able to do it part time
Balancing work and school
Reducing the size of my paycheck by at least fifty percent
Studying, taking tests, writing papers, doing homework, giving speeches, writing dissertations…

Anyway, some of the things on the cons list are petty, but the fact that I routinely list them as cons probably means that I’m trying to make the cons seem more intense so that I can justify not going to school. Part of me feels like a failure for admitting that I’m not going to have more than an undergraduate degree. The other part says, "who cares?"

I feel a teeny bit excited to finally put this to rest and pursue other things I am passionate about. I’m currently working on a project that has taken up a lot of my time, but because I think the research is fascinating, I know it is important to me. [More on this later].

Is there anything in life you wish you did, but didn’t? Is there something your internal monologue is arguing about?  


  1. great post jennifer. i have this convo with myself all the time. i'm taking the GRE tomorrow just to lay to rest some of the convo. i just figured, mind as well take the test and decide later. at least i set myself up for it when i'm truly ready. the test is annoying as hell to study for but since i'm trying to slow down on my discretionary spending, i decided to study in my spare time so i wouldnt go out so much :)

  2. Could be worse. You could be about to finish up your undergrad and panic without realizing it and not figure out what you need to graduate/not sign up for anything. AHHHHHH HELP ME

    Anyway. You can't compare the grad schools with psych students I don't think because we are forced to go to grad school if we ever want to work in the psych field. Granted you can do SOME stuff with a bach in psych (I might have more opportunity with having a bach in CJ as well).. however, you can't do the psychy things you would want to do. Like assessments, testing, therapy, etc etc. AND you can't make a whole lot of money without the doctorate. So I'm pretty much forced to go to grad school because of my major.

    If I didn't have to go, and I had a job that paid well from just my bach.. I'd do that. Think about how far ahead you are of me just debt alone.. grad school will be probably $130k for me!! AHHHHH HELP AGAIN

    BUT I flippin love school. And if you want to learn more about what you're doing, then I say why not? You only live once. I'm all about getting as much education as I possibly can, whether inside or out of school. If it will help your career, mainly help you do what you WANT to do, then go for it!

    You don't have to worry about not finding a job out of grad school I don't think, so you're lucky there.

    I think it just comes down to whether or not it would benefit you, in my eyes. If it will help you reach goals you have set for your career, go to grad school. If you can do what you want to do without it, leave it for the future. You ARE only 24 ya know. I have people in my classes in their 40's-50's going to get a bachelors for the first time. There is always time for school!!

  3. I have many internal battles with myself. Some as petty as "what should I eat for dinner?". Grad school is one of them, obviously being one of the psych majors I have to do it. However, I can't seem to pinpoint what I want grad school to lead me to, which is mainly the reason I haven't started the application process yet. It took a lot of convincing from former co-workers to realize that most people don't go to grad school right away. I like that you are focusing on this project you are working on. If it interests you and is making you happy now, it's the right thing. Yoga, and the happiness project, and recent conversations with family and friends have made me realize that most of our decisions really aren't permanent. Do what feels right for you now, if it changes later then change your actions to reflect that.


Whatcha thinkin'?