Marginal Revolution: Should you go to graduate school in a recession?

An interesting (depressing?) take on graduate school during bad economic times.

Marginal Revolution: Should you go to graduate school in a recession?.

Though I disagree with the assessment that jobs can’t give a person meaning (I’ll forever have difficulty accepting the idea that the thing that occupies most of my time doesn’t somehow define me), the interesting point made here is that people should stay away from graduate school until the system is restructured. The real kicker of this is that the link given about restructuring the graduate system is just some teaser about between-job mobility. Lacking any real explanation of what this means, we’re left to wonder what exactly the author means by this statement.

Ambiguity aside, are there any thoughts on this assessment of graduate school as economic escape?

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3 Responses to Marginal Revolution: Should you go to graduate school in a recession?

  1. Jake says:

    I think this is pretty dumb. There’s no difference between developing a specialized skill-set in the workforce or in academia, except for the pay differential. Either way, creative destruction will wipe them both out eventually. But I’d argue that someone with more experience learning will be better able to respond to this world than someone with more experience doing. (Depends, obviously, but generally).

    Although, it is very important to understand that most graduate degrees prepare you for only one type of job, and are not as flexible in fact than work experience. She has a point that grad school is not a great place to “find yourself,” though I’d point out that the workplace is not either, especially in the context of high stress and long hours.

    I’m rambling now, but if you’re here because you want to be a political science professor, don’t stress out too much over this article. It’s written for people who just want A Job and can’t figure out where to get it.

  2. I don’t have any qualms about my career choice, thus this post doesn’t really apply to or worry me. She does have a good point in saying that in a poor economic climate the poor join the military and the rich join grad school. Of course, my bank account would indicate that I should have joined the former, objections to its purpose notwithstanding.

    It does seem to me that a lot of people do begin graduate studies for the wrong purpose; your point about “finding yourself” is well put. There are too many requirements, with a very narrow range of benefits and outcomes, for one to simply join because they don’t know what else to do. The only way to fix that is at the ground level, with advisors telling students thinking of using graduate studies as an “out” to rethink their strategy.

    That being said, I initially joined graduate school because I didn’t want to be a journalist. Lucky for me that it turned out to be the right move; I assume many other graduate students aren’t so fortuitous.

    I’m still a bit perplexed by the blog author’s idea of waiting for graduate school to be restructured…

  3. Jake says:

    Yeah, that restructuring stuff is what I was referring to with my talk of creative destruction. How would we restructure graduate school? Offer individual classes rather than degree programs? There’s no way we, as a general institution, could tailor particular classes to the particular needs of particular business.
    Maybe she wants to get rid of law school and med school and let the market weed out the bad ones. Such ideas have been floated before…

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