Further Education

I’m a big supporter of education, I believe it to be very important both personally and professionally, but I have a bit of a different viewpoint on advanced education than some others do.  As a sort of continuation of last Monday’s post, here is my version of Why, when it comes to education.

I have a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and am happy that I chose to get a master’s degree, however, I do not believe in getting an advanced degree just to get an advanced degree.  I often give, probably unsolicited, advice to those considering further education.  When someone tells me why they are thinking about getting an advanced degree, one of my first questions is usually, Why? 

I feel like asking why is critical to obtaining a useful graduate degree and I am not looking for a specific answer here.  The answer can be, because I want to teach college, or because I want to do something in my professional career that I plan to research as a graduate student.  It can even be, because I want to earn more money and this will help in my field.  Whatever the answer is, there needs to be a why associated with the decision, or you may as well go into your career full time. 

Getting a graduate degree is different from getting an undergraduate degree, undergraduate degrees are usually pretty well lined out for you, but with a graduate degree you are the one who steers the boat.  Without a clear destination, there is a good chance you won’t really go anywhere.

For me, I went to graduate school after spending some time working, I felt like I needed to go back and was very lucky to be on a project to help design products for those in developing countries (I will write more about this on a later blog post).  This area is something I am passionate about and something that I want to be more involved in as my career progresses and I am in a professional and financial position to do so.  Researching products for poverty alleviation has given me the background and direction I need to be able to help in this field in the future.

So, for those of you who did or didn’t attend graduate school, what was your why?

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