The Irreverent Professor

Unvarnished realities about life, teaching, learning, and change in this wild, wild world

Archive for the tag “change”

Should You Go to Graduate School? Probably Not.

Every few months I get an e-mail from a former (or current) student and the uncomfortable exchange goes like this:

Student: Dear  Dr. Tyra, Would you be willing to write me a recommendation letter for graduate school?  I really enjoyed/learned so much in (insert other flattery here) your class and now I want to go back and get a master’s degree in (usually the same field).

Me:  Dear Student, I would certainly consider writing you a letter for graduate school if I didn’t think that by doing so, I would be doing you a terrible disservice.

Student: …..?

I know it’s not what they are expecting to hear and it’s probably not what they want to hear, but for 99.9% of them, it’s what they need to hear.  Too many people go to graduate school (a) to extend the period of time “in college” before they have to deal with the real world or (b) they can’t get a job and so they figure they may as well stay in school.  Bad, bad, bad reasons to go to graduate school.  Plus, in many instances, this strategy just results in being over-qualified and under-experienced for even an entry level job.  Not to mention further in debt.

UA graduate 2012

One of my recent rock star students who graduated and who is (wisely) working for a while post-graduation.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for higher education.  I didn’t get three graduate degrees for nothing.  And I’ve used every one of them…although not always in the way I thought I would use them (but that’s for another post).  Grad school is not a summer camp for the Peter Pan set and it’s not something that should be undertaken lightly.

There are exceptions, certainly.  In some fields a master degree is the minimum education needed.  Those fields are not the ones I’m talking about here.  I’m talking about the liberal arts, hospitality, marketing, whatever majors.  The fields where the combination of education and experience are necessary to even get in the game.

My advice for undergrads and recent grads is: stay out of school after graduation. Work a few years, figure out who you are and if what you think you want to do really is what you want to do.  Then find out what skills/knowledge you need to do it better…and then consider graduate school.  Ideally, not at your alma mater, where you may have some of the same professors you had for undergrad (and in some cases, the same classes plus an extra “graduate level” project – snort!).

It’s also important to choose the right graduate degree.  My husband got his MBA several years ago because…well, that’s what people with IT degrees who weren’t going to be IT guys did at the time.  He was told it would open all kinds of doors for him.  It didn’t.  So he went back and got a Master in Library Science (MLS).  And despite frequent ribbing from me about being married to a librarian, it’s been just what he needed.  But he didn’t know it until he knew it.

Carpe education (or not)!

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The Mad Crushes I Have and How They Are Changing My Life

It’s time I just confess to some mad crushes I have…on people I’ve never met.  But I hang on their every word.  And they don’t even know it.  But maybe they will someday.  And maybe you’ll crush on them, too, if I tell you about them.

1. Marcus Buckingham – I have had a crush on Marcus since I first read “Now, Discover Your Strengths” which he wrote with Donald Clifton (may he rest in peace).  I sooooooo believe in the Strengths movement.  So much so that I foist it upon my students (and anyone else who will listen).  My students tend to look very confused because it conflicts with what they’ve been told most of their life, which is “find your weaknesses and focus on improving them.”

Handsome devil, isn't he?

It’s really his brain I crush on…well, mostly

Which, by the way, is a bunch of crap.  There are a number of things in life that I am not good at and never will be better than mediocre (or “middlin'” as my Granny would say) at.  There are a few things I consider strengths and I enjoy using those and find it fairly effortless to use them.  More about them in another post, perhaps.

He changes the way I think about my life.  Every single time I read another one of his books or watch one his videos.  Even if I’ve read or seen it before.

And his tall, dark handsome good looks, U.K. accent, and the wonderful fatherly way he incorporates stories about his son Jack into his work don’t hurt either.  *swoon*

2. Hugh MacLeod (a/k/a @gapingvoid), the cartoonist.  I have no idea what he looks like, but he’s irreverent, sometimes crude, and incredibly thought-provoking.  And he has made a living drawing cartoons.  Gotta love that.  Although I’m not a particularly visual person, I rather dig his scary little monster figures.

From @gapingvoid's blog.  This particular cartoon resonates.

From @gapingvoid’s blog. This particular cartoon resonates.

But it’s more the very, very irreverent words that are attached to his cartoons that make him one of my crushes.  There was a short time there that I understand he was in a relationship (he may still be for all I know) and he lost a bit of his snarky “edge,” imho.  But it is back in full force in his latest genius piece, “The Art of Not Sucking.”  A must read–for college students or anyone who is trying to figure out this thing called Life.  (Not the game or the cereal, though.  It won’t help with those.)

3. Josh Groban – this one will be of no surprise to my husband.  Why this kid?  Have you heard him sing?  Voice of an angel.  And he’s pretty darn funny, too (on Twitter, I mean…it’s not like he calls me to chat).  So I confess to being a music cougar.  Love his music, have seen him in concerts(and this introvert doesn’t GO to concerts…but I went to his), watched him on Ally McBeal way back when, on Kelly & Whomever more recently when he was a guest co-host.

Handsome young man, isn't he?

Handsome young man, isn’t he?  Geez, I sound old.

As with the visual thing, I don’t have much of an “ear” for music.  Music’s music to me.  I turn on the radio and I’m done with it.  But Josh’s music reached me when no one else’s did.  So much so that I went out and bought the CD (ok, it was a few years ago – when he was 12 or something).  It was my first music purchase in about a bazillion years.  I own them all now (yes, as downloads…I’m not THAT old).

So there you go.  Strengths, irreverent cartoons, wonderful music.  And for my sweet husband of 13 years…thanks for understanding, honey.  You’re still my biggest crush.

Carpe people who change your life for the better.

Fear of Change–College to the Real World

It’s that time of year here at the university when students are (a) excited about getting close to graduating, (b) dreading/fearing graduation or (c) both.  What I can’t quite figure out is why anyone would dread or fear graduation.  Maybe it was because I didn’t enjoy college.  That is, I didn’t enjoy the institution.  I enjoyed the learning, but that certainly didn’t stop when I left.

I’m hypothesizing that students who fear/dread graduating fall into one of several categories:

1) They are party animals and don’t want the party to stop.

Life is one big party...for some in colelge

Life is one big party…for some in college

2) They are comforted by the cocoon of their group of friends, sorority/fraternity, sheltered microcosm of college in general.  The idea of going out in the big, bad world all alone is terrifying.

3) They have no idea what the real world is about and they don’t want to think about it.

The folks in Category #3 are the ones rushing to my office to talk about “graduate school” – a way to extend the college experience so they don’t have to go out into the real world.  And here’s what I tell them…

If you want to go to graduate school, don’t go now and don’t go here.  Go get some work experience before you go further in debt (or better yet, wait until you can afford to pay for grad school) so you can be sure you are getting your graduate degree in the right field.  And don’t go here especially if you want to get your master’s degree in the same field as your undergrad (or think you do).  Go somewhere else where you can learn from different people who have different experiences or perspectives.

The Category #2 folks are the ones that just need to be pushed out of the nest and learn to fly the hard way.  Sink or swim, baby!  Oh, mixing animal metaphors there.  Oh, well.  Swimming birds, flying fish, whatever.

And for Category #1 folks, all I can say is “Grow up, dude.”  (Or dudette).  It’s time.

The Real World is awesome.  Really.  Sure, there’s an adjustment period, but it is awesome.  Trust me.

Carpe the Real World.

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