What to Do After College– 7 Alternatives to Spending a Fortune on Grad School

by Martin

What to do after college? Is graduate school the best option right after you finish college? The answer is not always and the alternatives are found within this post.

Life after college is pretty scary. It’s challenging to figure out what to do after college with so many options being available to us. The thought of being completely free is exciting at first. Then as you think about it more, you start to wonder what you’re going to do with all of your newly found free time. You start to wonder if you can still have as much fun and party as hard. You worry about becoming that old guy at parties.

This is the first time in your life where you don’t know what’s going to happen next. There’s no more structure. There’s no more professors and classmates breathing down your neck. There’s no more deadlines. No more last minute cramming for an exam. You’re all on your own.

You can build something amazing. You can also be lazy and stream your favorite shows online. You can save some serious money. You can take time off to “find yourself.” You can get a job and start investing your money. You can also spend more money and go to grad school.

What you accomplish after college is in your control. I can’t tell tell you what to do after college. I can help you think of an amazing idea or two that’s better than more education.

Seven alternatives to an MBA or any form of graduate school post-college are:

1. Work abroad.

One of the best things to do after college is to work in a new country. Instead of finding a job in your hometown or in the downtown core, you can do something radically different and work in a totally different country. If you don’t have any close family or strong job prospects, you can use that as an excuse to take off and find work abroad.

I know that it’s easy to suggest finding a job abroad. Actually finding work in another country can be challenging at first. That’s why I recommend you check out Dave’s ESL Cafe and look for a teaching gig. Usually a college degree is the only requirement. The pay depends on how long you’re willing to stay and what country you decide to work in.

Why’s this better than grad school?

You experience a new culture and you get to make some money. You can watch documentaries, stay in a hostel, and learn all that you want about a country. You won’t know anything until you actually work in a country. Going to grad school will give you all of the theory in the world but you won’t learn anything about the world until you explore it. Studying a culture will NEVER be better than living the culture.

2. Start a business.

It’s relatively easy to find some sort of an average job after college. It takes real balls to start your own business and create your own income. Starting your own business provides you with more opportunities, the potential for more income, and the ability to control your own future.

Before you give me the usual nonsense about how you have no money or how you don’t have any great ideas, you need to read my piece on how you can start a business with no money. If you still have excuses, then you need to get a life!

Why’s this better than more schooling?

All the education in the world won’t help you if you don’t have the ability to get off your ass to get something done. You can go to all of the entrepreneurship conferences you find. You can print your own business cards. You can study business case studies. All of this is fine. If you want to see tangible and real results, you need to start your own business and give it a go.

3. Create something.

On the hierarchy of value, the money goes to those that are not afraid to create something. We can all lift or even sell something. How many of us can actually create? Not many. That’s why those that create see the benefit of disproportionate results compared to those that lift or sell.

Why’s this better than spending your time in school?

In school you create something (boring assignments) that are going to be graded by your professors. Only a handful of individuals will ever get to see your work. If you want create something outside of the school system, your potential is unlimited.

4. Learn a new language.

How many languages do you speak? Is it time that you figured out how to speak another language? I think it is. I’ve been slowly trying to learn some Spanish. The more languages you speak the greater are your opportunities. You can’t work for United Nations unless you speak 5 languages.

Why’s this better than grad school?

Well truthfully you can learn another language while in graduate school or while doing any of these other options. The only caveat is that most of us will use “being tired” or some other excuses to prolong learning another language. I can tell you the truth or I can tell you what you want to hear. You’re not as busy as you think you are.

5. Master a new skill.

Have you been dying to learn a new skill? Do you want to pick up kickboxing? Do you want to figure out how to surf? This is your chance. You’ll never be as free as you are right now.

Even if you have lots of student debt you still have a six month period or so before you need to start paying the money back.

What’ so good about this option?

We all have the ability to remain average. That’s boring. Very few of us will learn any new skills of any significance in our 20s. Why not separate yourself from the pack and master something new?

6. Kill your debt.

The next option is to take some time to pay down debt. This means that you’re going to work like maniac, cut back your expenses, and put all of your money towards your debt (student debt and credit card debt).

The ROI of this option is immensely high. You do need to sacrifice plans to start a business or to travel. The amazing part is that you can live a life without debt. You’ll be debt free while your friends struggle to make their debt payments on time.

Why’s this better than more education?

Because your education already got you into debt (I know it’s an investment). Do you really need to get into any more debt for more education? I don’t think so. You can try to convince yourself all that you want. The reality is that if you haven’t found a job after college or if you hate your job, more education is not the solution.

7. Do nothing.

I’m not a fan of this option because I can’t sit still for more than a few hours. I do have a few friends that did this. Instead of stressing about finding a job or doing anything else, you can do absolutely nothing.

You can wake up whenever you want. You can watch episodes of Lost on your laptop. You can drink as much as you want. You can do absolutely nothing productive.

What’s the benefit of doing nothing?

You never know when a great idea can hit you. You never know when you can meet a person that can change your life.

If you want to learn more about what to do after college then you need to keep on reading Studenomics. We often look at things to do after graduation.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Penny

I agree that it depends on the field, which is why I didn’t like your complete generalization and why I stated that for some people and some professions it is the right choice. I’ve already listed my primary reasons for why grad school was the right decision for me, and with all of my classes having tests and last minute homework assignments this week I don’t have time to expand on it too much more right now, but I’ll say a little bit more. I’m in engineering, and while licensing isn’t very important in some fields of engineering it is absolutely crucial in others. Licensing requirements vary by field and by state, but I have heard from several professors and professionals that masters degrees will be required for licensing in my field by the majority of states in the next decade or so. Since the professional engineering exam is only the second of several exams I will need to pass in order to excel in my field, anything that will help me along the way is a huge benefit. Because it is important in licensing, having a masters degree tells employers that you are serious and that you are thinking about your future in the profession.

The courses I have covered so far in my masters curriculum and those I will take next semester are all directly related to what I will be doing in the field, and I know that because the job I have lined up for after graduation is for a company I interned with last summer. There wasn’t a single person along my career trajectory there that didn’t have a masters degree, though some earned them after starting the job. I had to borrow a coworker’s textbooks for a couple of areas I hadn’t covered yet and it wasn’t uncommon for people to reference textbooks or binders full of class notes if they needed to address an issue they hadn’t seen in a while. While it’s possible to learn things entirely from books, it is much easier to learn some of the calculation techniques and analytical methods in a classroom than to try to learn them on the fly with a deadline looming.

I’m certainly not saying that everyone needs to go to grad school, and I think for many people it is a placeholder while they figure out what to do next. I’ve even known people to start Ph.D programs they knew they weren’t committed to because they wanted to move to a certain area and didn’t want to find a job. Even so, there are plenty of people for whom the answer to the questions you opened the post with are “Yes, absolutely!”

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