19 things you can do instead of grad school

July 11 2013

I’ve witnessed firsthand the business our education system has become.

I strongly advise anyone considering graduate school to carefully consider whether this investment is necessary in order to obtain the position and professional satisfaction they are looking for.

Many of the skills needed to thrive in our economy are not obtained in classrooms. You may want to consider these learning experiences before you sign your letter of intent:

  1. Volunteer. Help your local farmers’ market, assist the neighborhood school, sign up for an overseers program. A simple google search should yield a few options.
  2. Find an apprenticeship. The Department of Labor lists registered offerings and you can search by your state.
  3. Be an intern. They’re not just for undergrads. Offer your services to a company whose mission and values you admire.
  4. Get a mentor. Ask for introductions to industries you’re interested in. Identify individuals who have the kind of career trajectory you want.
  5. Be mentor. This is one of the best ways to solidify what you do know. You may surprise yourself.
  6. Take a Skillshare class.
  7. Join the General Assembly community.
  8. Check out classes at a community college. Find one near you here.
  9. Take advantage of free online education: Coursera‎, Khan Academy, Academic EarthGCF Learn Free, Open Courseware Consortium, iTunes U, Textbook Revolution.
  10. Travel. (I wish this was mandatory for all graduating students.)
  11. Start a blog. Get into the habit of putting your thoughts into words.
  12. Get yourself a library card. Read and read and read some more.
  13. Place yourself in new environments and experience new things. Go on an adventure, learn a trade, take a woodworking course.
  14. Show initiative and take on new projects at work.
  15. Organize groups through Meetup or other social platforms (TabUp, Kitchen Surfing).
  16. Spend time in your local art studio.
  17. Submit op-ed articles to your newspaper.
  18. Ask for informational interviews from a variety of professions and roles.
  19. Take time off. Don’t rush into any decision. That graduate program will [most likely] be there next year.

Did you attend or skip grad school? Was it “worth it” and are you using your degree now? Send me a note with your thoughts.