Why I Said No to Grad School

by Leah Nicole Whitcomb


It’s October and my classmates are finishing up their GREs, LSATs, MCATs and turning in their grad school/med school applications. There have even been a few who have already been accepted to their school of choice. I, however, chose to forgo that route.

I have been in school since I was three. That’s right, three years old. I went to Early Head Start and was in school from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., which was hard on a three-year-old. I had to learn my letters and my colors and actually do work. Fortunately, we had naptime and recess to help us cope with being in a classroom, but those things left after kindergarten and didn’t come back until college. 18 years in a classroom takes a toll on a person. Pretty much my entire existence has involved me sitting at a table or in a desk, learning.

With all those years in a educational environment, I’ve grown tired of the learning environment. Over the course of my time at Millsaps, my mental health has deteriorated. There have been nights that I woke up in a panic because of the crushing load of work and responsibility I carried on my chest; the work and responsibility that I paid for. Money’s another reason to forgo grad school. I’m fortunate enough to not be in a massive amount of debt after I leave Millsaps, but I won’t be so lucky when it comes to grad school. Most jobs in my field (communications) only require a bachelor’s degree. The extra money I could make with a master’s degree would not justify the debt I would incur from grad school.

All of this is a long winded way of saying, maybe grad school isn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong. I always thought that I’d be in school for as long as I could because I was scared that I wouldn’t be good at anything else, but college has shown me that I can do so many other things. I can do anything that I want.

We currently live in a nation where only one third of people hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. I will soon be in the minority of people who hold at least a four year degree. In May, I will graduate with honors from, undoubtedly, one of the most challenging colleges in Mississippi. I successfully drafted an honors thesis and will be one of only 19 people in my class who can say the same. Not going to grad school does not mean that I’m giving up or am losing my potential, it means that I’ve made the most that I could out of the resources that I’ve had, and I’m ready to apply that to the real world.

My plans for next year are currently undecided, and I’m okay with that. I know that I have marketable skills and can easily adapt to my current environment. After talking to different faculty and trustee members, pretty much all agree that this is the prime time of my life where I can travel,  explore, and figure out who I am and who I want to be in life. So to everyone who has asked about my plans after grad school, I plan to explore the world and myself. This answer brings anxiety to some because it is not a solid answer, but what in life is solid and certain?

To everyone who has decided that grad school is for them, I wish you the best of luck. To everyone who has been accepted to their school of choice, congratulations. Graduate school isn’t for everyone, but I’m glad you decided that it was for you

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