The conventional wisdom is that when the economy starts to falter, grad school is a great place to hide out until things blow over. True to form, grad school applications are up across the country. Over the past year I’ve heard friend after friend say that they’re frustrated with their respective job searches and are ready to trek to grad school until things boil over. Some are heading for an MBA or JD after discovering their true calling. Others are essentially trying to escape reality and hope that their new advance degree will give them an edge when they return to job hunting.

Will two to three more years of school automatically place you ahead of the people who have the standard four-year degree?

Not everyone seems to think so: 

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“After reading your article I wanted to share my recession story. I earned my MBA with an emphasis in Global Business from the University of Redlands in November 2007.
 
I decided to get my Master’s degree after getting laid-off from various positions in the Human Resources department of various large, well-known companies. I thought getting a Master’s degree would make me more marketable and would give me stability in whatever company I worked for during times of lay-offs. I couldn't have been more wrong because I haven't had a job or worked since earning my MBA.

I earned my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Human Resources, from Cal State Long Beach. Therefore, my work experience is primarily in HR so my job search has been centered in that field.

However, whenever I interview (directly through a company or go through an agency) I'm told that I'm either over-qualified or under-qualified for the position. The worst part is being told I'm over-educated (by employers, not employment agencies) – it pisses me off because I don't believe anyone can be "over-educated.” I'm sure those telling me this either have no education beyond high school or are envious, maybe even threatened by my Master’s degree. 

I now feel that I have shot myself in the foot by earning my Master’s degree because I can't find a job within the field of HR or outside of it. There are plenty of jobs I can do as my work outside of HR has been in administrative roles. 
 
When it comes to HR, I'm at an intermediate level (HR Coordinator), but it seems employers are either looking for entry-level or advanced. Therefore, it's been hard for me to get placed when employers want someone to fill either role. 
 
When I've applied for Coordinator positions, I'm asked why I'm not applying for something above this or told (by the employer) that they believe I'm over-qualified, and thus might quit if/when I find something better and/or told I'd get bored in the position.

The worst part of my job search though is that my school, the University of Redlands, doesn't help place us graduates after we complete out degree. They just take our money and run, which reminds me of the University of Phoenix e.g. quantity, not quality. 

It was ALOT easier finding a job after earning my Bachelor’s degree than my Master’s and one would think it would be the other way around.” 

Elena 

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I remember being told that I would make a great lawyer. Outside of Clair Huxtable and Ally McBeal, I have no interest in law and with law school applications soaring, the field seems too crowded. 

Then after a while people told me it would be such a great idea to get an advanced degree in journalism. My typical response was asking how much more debt does one need to tack on to learn how to write? 

I see the benefits of grad school for some, but I don’t think it’s necessary for all. What about you? 

Continue sending me your stories at therecessiondiaries@gmail.com.

Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.

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