In a previous entry, Elena, a recent MBA recipient, wrote that based on her experiences attending graduate school won’t necessarily aid one in their job search. In fact she argued that it might do more harm than good. 

Though there is a growing chorus of recent advanced degree earners who share Elena’s sentiments, not everyone is ready to completely write off the benefits of graduate school. 

As jobs continue to grow scarcer one reader offers a different perspective for those considering heading back to class. 

In his eyes graduate school is still a great solution for those looking to bide their time and wait out the economic climate — as long as they’re going about it correctly. 

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“My take is that it varies by industry, but grad school probably is a good place to hide until 2011 or ‘12.  First, there’s not a tremendous amount of conventional (9-to-5er) salary to be made at the moment.  So if you can get grants, stipends, and/or loans for school, you might want to do so and thereby avoid the job hunt.  Also, psychologically – especially if you’re in your 20’s – you can use this as an opportunity to defer some of your “grown up” lifestyle costs until the recession blows over.  

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Second, certain industries will reward you for it.  Now that “reward” could be in the form of a slightly better salary, or it could simply be getting “the nod” over a comparable candidate for the same position – but it’s a form of reward nonetheless. 

The caveat is this isn’t the time for a generalist degree like an MBA.  I earned mine in 2001, and notwithstanding that era’s economic turmoil, I have benefitted greatly from it. 

However, as I survey the job market (which I might soon be thrown into), nobody is looking for “an MBA” the same way no one is looking for merely for “a smart worker.”  They’re looking for a health care specialist, an IT professional, or a financial analyst – each instance suffixed with “MBA preferred.”  

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I’m currently studying for a Project Management Professional credential, which will definitely help to distinguish me in the software implementation field.  The MBA, on the other hand, gives me a better analytical focus, a bit more credibility in the eyes of my managers and clients, and perceived mobility such that my employers tend to try to keep me happy. 

So, yes, call a time-out on this whole recession, but make sure that either before or as a product of your advanced degree, you have obtained some type of specialized skills.  

Even my wife, who just graduated law school, is lamenting the fact that she didn’t obtain more specialized experience in the process.  Luckily, she has survived two layoffs through “straight hustlin’” at the job, and is trying to develop a specialty on the fly.” 

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Bert 

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I’ve read about a recent surge in journalism school applications. It's a strange turn of events given the fact that many journalists young and old are currently crying that the sky is falling.

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In response to news of sudden interest in graduate-level journalism school programs a writer for Gawker jokingly wrote, “If you apply for expensive training in a dying profession, why should anyone trust your abilities to collect and analyze information?”

Then again, maybe it’s all about perspective.

Say you don’t get a journalism job. Perhaps you can take that extensive training in ethics and investigative reporting and parlay it into some form of legal work as some are planning to do just in case.

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Could Bert be on to something?

Email me at therecessiondiaries@gmail.com

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