I’m glad I chose not to go to grad school.
Before and after I graduated from college, I was focused on going to graduate school. My goal was to work in economic development, and most of the jobs I desired required a graduate degree.
As I toiled over the GRE, it hit me: Why am I struggling to memorize information when I could be learning skills that would benefit me in the real world?
So, instead of going to grad school, I decided to teach myself some digital skills. And let me tell you – it was the best decision I ever made. These skills have completely changed my life for the better, and they can do the same for you.
Here are six reasons why teaching myself digital skills and not spending another $100,000 or more on higher education was the greatest choice I could have made.
1. I Cut My Expenses Significantly.
It is expensive to attend university in the United States, and graduate programs cost just as much if not more. (For example MBAs, and law degrees.) The tuition for most of these programs falls between $30,000 and $120,0001.
Graduate school also frequently implies moving, which might drive up the cost of living. When you think about it, you may do almost anything and spend less money than studying at grad school in the United States.
- You may see the world.
- You could finance your own business
- You could learn without attending a formal university
Going to graduate school might be a healthy investment in some situations. But In my case, it just wasn’t the case.
2. I Optimized My Time Usage.
A year or two (or more) is a chunk of your life.
The time you spend working a job you’re unhappy with is time that could be spent getting experience in the real world. And it’s also time wasted trying to figure out what your passions are– something that can only truly be done through first-hand experience.
I was fortunate enough to land a job in my field of choice before I had to commit to graduate school, though it was more like a paid internship. It gave me some experience and insight into what my life would be like after graduation.
To be honest, I didn’t like it.
I dodged a bullet. Imagine if I’d immediately gone to grad school and ended up wasting time and money on a career I didn’t like.
3. Having Digital Skills Will Make You More Marketable and Increase Your Earning Potential.
According to a recent Glassdoor poll, 14 of the top 25 highest-paying and in-demand professions are in the field of technology.
These not only pay more but are also in higher demand. And this will continue to grow in the next few years.
A lot of what they teach in universities is outdated and not relevant to today’s job market.
My education would not have included many digital abilities if I had gone to grad school. Even if I had a grad degree, it really would not have made me a more attractive job candidate for certain fields—especially technology.
4. Having Digital Skills Will Make You More Marketable and Increase Your Earning Potential.
In his work, Degrees Don’t Matter Anymore Skills Do, Miles Kimball argues that “More and more, employers are going to want to see some proof that a potential employee has gained particular skills. So certificates that can credibly attest to someone’s ability to write computer code, write a decent essay, use a spreadsheet, or give a persuasive speech are going to be worth more and more.”
In this article, a professor argues that skill development matters more than obtaining a college degree. He cites recent evidence to support his claim, such as the popularity of coding boot camps.
In addition, they’re a cheaper and quicker option than attending grad school.
5. You Can Develop These Skills by Yourself.
In the early stages of my career, I found out that you can get a lot of these in-demand talents by yourself.
Many of these technical occupations do not require a technical undergraduate education, much less grad school (however this varies).
It has never been easier, due to the vast amount of free or low-cost resources available online.
For example, anybody with an internet connection may audit MIT classes for free. Even if you’re not looking to acquire digital skills, other platforms like Coursera provide courses on a variety of themes for no cost.
If you want a more hands-on approach, attend in-person workshops or “boot camps.” (Both of which are less expensive and don’t take as much time as grad school.)
I have learned a lot of what I know through self-teaching. However, early on, I took part in Meetup groups’ in-person training sessions such as Girl Develop It.
6. More and More Aspects of Our Lives Are Going Digital.
Technology has become so commonplace in society that every business needs to have at least a basic understanding of it. For example, nearly every company has a website. Some businesses take their technology presence even further by having extensive online stores or applications.
Most businesses need employees skilled in information technology, and having these abilities on your resume will make you much more attractive to potential employers.
There is a widespread belief that being tech-savvy only refers to knowing how to code. However, that could not be further from the truth. In actuality, digital skills can include any of the following:
- Creating content for websites is a type of content strategy known as online marketing (or web marketing).
- The process of organizing content on a website or application is referred to as information architecture.
- Google Analytics is a free tool you can use to track your website’s performance and understand what visitors are doing on it. Web analytics (using tools to assess what website users are doing and how to improve the site)
- Creating products with the end user in mind (UX design)
- Excel is a common program for both business and IT professionals. Pivot tables and more complex macros are required in many tech jobs.
- Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO, is the practice of helping websites rank better in search engines like Google.
- and so much more.
Every digital skill you have can help your resume, stay up-to-date, and keep you competitive in your field. You may also discover that you’re interested in one or two of them.
I want to assist you in taking the first steps of this amazing journey. [Put down the GRE study guide and come visit me on Learn To Code With Me.
[Related: What These Millennials Did After College Instead of Starting a Full-Time Job]
Photo: Georgijevic / Getty Images