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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Should You Go to Grad School? Here's Advice from My College Professor That'll Help

Tuesday, October 07, 2014 Posted by Chris Tung , , No comments



I've been fortunate enough to have some truly incredibly mentors. All of them have given me invaluable knowledge and advice for my career and life, and I felt it would be selfish not to share their words of wisdom with others.

So, if you're thinking about graduate school, here's two sentences from my college professor that should be considered before you start applying:

"You shouldn't do graduate school as a Plan B. It shouldn't be something you settle on."

My senior year of college I was debating whether to move to New York or attend graduate school. Grad school--with its continuation of college, familiar structure, and claim to make someone more qualified for a job--was the safe option, but for me, it was also the wrong option.

While seeking advice from my college professor, he told me that although graduate school would be easier, it wouldn't be the right thing for me. He knew that even though I was decent at my studies I wasn't passionate enough to pursue a Masters or PhD in anything yet. I was too young, too inexperienced, and only settling on graduate school because I was afraid of life outside of school.

He gave me the above word of advice, and he was totally right. I ended up not applying to graduate schools, decided to take a gamble, and moved to New York to find a job. And, if you've read my About page, you'll know that decision paid off, allowing me to work with some of the most prestigious startups in New York and being one of the few people on Earth to say they've worked for Amazon, left Amazon, and then got acquired by Amazon in about two years.

So what am I saying?

Graduate school isn't for everyone but it's also a very good choice if you know what you're doing it for. However, when I was in my senior year of college, graduate school definitely wasn't for me, and I'm glad my professor pointed out how stupid I was for thinking settling on a Masters program would be a good idea.

After all, if you're going to invest tens of thousands of dollars in something and commit a few years of your life to a program, you should do it because it's your Plan A not your Plan B, and even though I was asking for advice about graduate school, this is applicable to just about anything we want in our lives. Life is too short, and if you're debating an option that will allow you to grow and challenge yourself but is somewhat risky versus one that is safer, more comfortable, but less fulfilling, do NOT go with the safer plan B. If you go with your Plan A every time, you will always find yourself in a win-win situation. If you succeed, you achieved what you really wanted, and if you fail, you'll learn something about yourself and the world that you never would have discover had you not taken the change in the first place. And, that lesson is a heck of a lot cheaper than graduate skill. 

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