Monday, July 18, 2011

The Grige, Grad School and the GRE

One of my favorite things about my Partner is that he really just doesn't care about what other people think of him.  After a weekend of heavy boozing at my cousin's wedding in Michigan, he earned himself a nickname that will likely follow him to the grave. He asked for another glass of "the Grige" and thus was baptized in wine by my family.

So now, the Grige is planning to go to grad school and spends all of his time studying for the GRE (read: ignoring me/ the dishes/ the laundry/ the dead cockroach that I almost stepped on). I am being as supportive as I can, because that's what you do in a healthy relationship. However, the very idea of grad school makes me want to do this:

I think that pursuing a graduate degree is a hugely un-necessary waste of money. The fact that practically everyone who graduated around the same time I did decided to hide in the library rather than face the dismal job market is probably the reason for this. Call me crazy, but staring down the rabbit hole after $100,000 that I didn't have in the first place while I search for jobs in a market that really just wants experience does not sound like a good idea to me. Penelope Trunk  talks more about this problem and other fun career topics in her excellent blog.

Penelope's points that I agree with most involve delaying adulthood, graduate education being pyramid scheme/money pit and the fact that working is not so bad. Most of my friends who went to grad school seem sort of stunted compared to my friends who worked (or worked and went to grad school). It's not that I don't love a good game of beer pong once and a while, but you have an actual table on your back deck? What would your boss say!? Oh wait... you don't have one.

These people are counting on expensive degrees to assist them in a market they know nothing about. If I wrote a book containing the really important skills I learned in my first year in the workforce alone, it would be longer than War and Peace and definitely worth more than I spent on my undergraduate degree. I would also venture to guess that those skills are very important to my future employers as well. I think that my peers who went to grad school instead will have a hard time competing with that knowledge when we are both up for higher paying jobs. Even if I don't get that job because I don't have a masters degree, at least I dodged the debt bomb. I'm not a risk taker, and that kind of investment return rate is just not for me.

So here I am, trying to be supportive as my roommate and Partner plants his feet firmly on the path back to grad school. It can't have been an easy decision for him, what with me spewing vitriol about cost-benefit analyses and irresponsible debt acquisition. And it is definitely not easy for him now that I've added a good deal of yelling about house-hold chores and how I refuse to clean up after him just because he's studying.

Despite all that, he is determined to go back, and I have to admit that his reasons are good. He's an architect, and it will be impossible for him to get licensed without a masters degree. Even though it will be years before he can even think about the pay-out from his hard work, he is talented and driven and I believe in him - in spite of my own good sense. 

I can't imagine having the kind of conviction the Grige has about being an architecht in my own career, and maybe that's my problem. Perhaps someday I will say "AHAH!" and run to my neighborhood university with application fee in hand. That day is not today, and I believe graduate school is a mistake for those of us who are not planning to become doctors (I am looking at you, Ph.D in cultural anthropology). But before I cry "unfair!" as our debt and the dishes in the sink pile up, I am going to take a deep breath and try to believe in the person I love.

Wish me luck,
Double E

1 comment:

  1. 100% agree. My job also makes me extra leery of people who go to grad school and incur a s***ton of debt without absolutely certainty about the resulting career.