Most days, I consider myself well out of the “quarterlife crisis” stage of my life. My life may not be perfect – or perfectly “adult” – but I like my job, I like my apartment, and I like my relationships. Everything’s great, right?
Sure. Except when it comes to grad school. Slowly but surely I’m becoming the least educated of all my friends. One of my best friends has a masters in organizational development. Another of my best friends is getting a masters in dietetics (she’s already a practicing dietician in the Air Force). Two friends from college, A. and A., both have MSWs. My best friend from elementary school has an MS in psychology. A good friend from study abroad is getting her MBA, and a former coworker just finished his. I can’t tell you how many law students (or recent law graduates) I know. Everywhere I turn, someone is taking the GRE, moving away to school, drowning in graduate-level schoolwork, or throwing a “thank god it’s over” graduation party.
There are a couple ways of looking at this. One is that, as the story goes, a bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma. As in, everyone has one and it means nothing more than “you did the bare minimum.” Looking at the people I know who have gone to graduate school, their desire is always based on wanting more. In some cases, it makes perfect sense: you are tired of X career and want to do Y, but Y requires an advanced degree. Of course it makes sense to get one if you’re truly passionate about that career. In other cases, it seems like a band-aid. The old “I hate my job/can’t find a job/want to switch careers so, I know! I’ll just go to grad school!”
And that’s what brings about my other way of looking at this: why fix what isn’t broken? I like my job. I like the path it’s leading me down. I’m learning a lot, I’m making good money, and I’m valued at work. The career I’ve entered into is one that rarely requires a graduate degree, and it’s certainly not something required of me anytime soon. I read things like this and it just makes sense to me. I don’t need to go to grad school. I just feel like I should because it’s what you’re “supposed to do” and it’s what my friends are doing.
I hate that I’m becoming the least educated among my friends. I hate, a little bit, that I’m content with the status quo – instead of pushing myself further, wanting more for myself, I’m happy with things as they are. I hate it a little, but at the same time, how long has it taken me to get here? And for that, I value it. I value knowing what I want (or being able to admit that I don’t know, rather than trying to search desperately for something, anything, to go to school for). I value knowing that I’m doing what’s right for me and seeing things come together (for example, my income has gotten progressively higher over the past two years, solely due to my performance). I value not being in debt, especially for something I’d only be doing because I “should.”
Don’t get me wrong: graduate school and higher education are great things. I’m glad I have access to them if I so choose, but I’m also glad to have the confidence to make the decision that’s right for me and not go that route unless I have a reason to do so. If that makes me the least educated of my friends, then so be it. I hope I make up for it in a different type of success, corporate or personal or otherwise, that would not necessarily be available to me if I added extra schooling into the mix.