So, Grad School, Anyone?
By Ashley, age 24, Massachusetts
Sweet Designs Staff Intern
As someone who is known for pursuing life decisions on the basis of impulse and instinct, I would advise against this spontaneity when choosing a graduate program. When I began my Master's degree in Labor Studies a year ago, it was due to a perceived disenchantment with my Political Science degree and an acquired interest in the organization of social movements.
What I failed to realize at the time (and what I now realize a year into a two-year graduate program) was that the burnout I experienced occurred because of the nature of political organizing, not because of the political system that I was adamantly set on changing. I have discovered (even though I have perhaps always known) that my personality and my strengths are not suited to political work and the lifestyle of an activist, but I ignored my passion for writing and literature in order to sacrifice myself for "the cause," in true utilitarian fashion. As such, I surrendered my individuality.
My advice to you is to research your options before committing to graduate school. Though you may feel tempted to "ride out the recession" by staying in school or by the allure of a fully funded education, attaining a Master's degree involves a large amount of work that will be torturous and isolating if you are not 100% passionate about it.
If you are hesitant about pursuing graduate school, there are options you can choose that will allow you to defer your admission. You can embark on a year of service through the AmeriCorps program, the Peace Corps, or similar private charitable organizations. You can volunteer, teach, or work abroad for a year. If you can afford it, you can simply take a semester off after four years of hard work and contemplate your next course of action.
Staying in school might seem like the responsible, adult thing to do. However, in the adult world that you are now a part of, decisions are made not on the foundation of what one "should" do, but what one personally feels is right. Set your own path and be your own role model, living according to the values you have developed through your own independent experience.