Graduate school can be a fantastic platform for advancing your skills and knowledge, improving your career prospects and increasing your earning potential. However, while many graduate programs can help you achieve all of these things, there are still some graduate programs out there that are best to be avoided.
Not all graduate programs are created equal and some are unfortunately more focused on turning a profit than providing a good quality education. If you’re considering applying to grad school, but want to know how to sort the good programs from the bad, check out the following tips on which programs you should definitely avoid.
Grad School Programs to Avoid At All Costs
Programs Without Accreditation
It’s vitally important that you attend a graduate program that is fully accredited by recognized academic organizations and associations as this validates the programs academic authenticity. Always check before you apply to a graduate program that it is fully accredited. Pay particularly close attention to for profit schools and online programs, as these may lack proper accreditation. A program that lacks proper accreditation won’t be trusted by potential employers, won’t allow you to transfer credits to other respected schools and is likely to end up costing you thousands of dollars for virtually nothing gained.
Overly Expensive Programs
Some graduate programs are going to be very expensive, especially if you attend an Ivy League graduate program or a PhD program. However, if you come across a program that seems unnecessarily pricey, this could be a red flag that something is amiss. Some programs are expensive for good reason, like those offered by extremely reputable institutions, but others out there are just basically padding their income streams by ripping off students with overly expensive tuition and fees. Get an idea of what your program of interest should cost by comparing tuition at other schools, and for some serious savings, be sure to consider attending public schools or non-profit schools as they are generally less expensive than private, for-profit schools. Ultimately, remember that graduate school is going to be costly virtually no matter where you go, but don’t let yourself get ripped off in the process.
Programs That Don’t Lead To Jobs
Many people go to graduate school in order to enhance their career opportunities and if this is the case for you then make sure to avoid attending a graduate program that doesn’t have a track record for getting their graduate students hired into good positions of employment. Although it can be difficult to establish just how effective a graduate program is in helping their graduates get desirable jobs quickly, you can get a good idea for a school’s effectiveness by exploring recent grads profiles on career networks (such as LinkedIn), and especially by contacting recent grads to ask them how easy it was to land a good gig.
Programs That Focus On Theory
Unless you are attending graduate school to enter an academic related career, or purely for entertainment purposes (because you just love learning), you will most likely want to choose a program that primarily focuses on teaching career-focused skills, abilities and experiences rather than just academic theory. Employers ultimately want to hire candidates that have a wide range of skills, but also skills specific to the field so it really is imperative that you attend a program which will do more than just teach you to think about your industry. Look at the courses that are offered at each graduate program you explore to get a clear idea of what skills will be taught and emphasized, and make sure that there are opportunities for real-world experience, and for applying theoretical knowledge, rather than just discussing related subjects. Graduate school is your chance to gain a competitive edge in the workforce, but if all you do is study, study, study, then you’ll blow your chance by completing a program that lacks actual application.
Programs Outside of Your Career Field
If you are hoping to transition careers, then completing a graduate program in a subject outside of your career field could be a wise move. However in virtually all other cases, it could equal career disaster. Investing in a graduate program that has very little relation to your current or hopeful career field will not only reflect poorly on your resume but could prove to be a complete waste of your time and money. Ideally, try to choose a graduate program that will enhance your resume and career prospects, rather than add another degree to your resume and make you look over qualified for eligible positions.