3 Things to Do Instead of Grad School (For Now)

I’m good at learning, which seems like a strange skill to have. A lot of my peers don’t understand my passion for going to class ready to engage, or the ways in which I scribble furiously in notebooks and shake my head up and down when something is finally clicking in my head. No, I’m not having an attack, I am just seriously excited to learn.

So it may seem odd, even to myself, that I haven’t applied to graduate school. Eventually I’ll go, obviously, but in the meantime there are so many other things to explore. Here are some of the things I would do, or am doing, instead of pursuing higher education.

1. Travel to someplace I’ve never been.

Ah, the beloved travel bug—it gets me every time. I love traveling, loved it since my first trip to Spain when I was younger: I love the smells of different cities, the vibrancy of people you meet along the way, and the unexplainable experience of pure happiness when you’re taking a train across the countryside and you realize how expansive the world actually is. So many people, so many walks of life all waiting to be discovered, which is why I plan to travel after graduation. People don’t put much stock into taking time to reflect on themselves, especially in this ultra-competitive society we live in. But take some time to slow down for a few weeks, experience things truly and wholly, and by the end of it you might have a better understanding of who you are and your place in the world.

2. Get an internship or a full-time job in a field that you are passionate for, or want to learn more about.

Experimentation can be the best medicine: sure, we all have grand ideas about who we think we are and what we’d like to do, but you’ll never know what being a lawyer or a public relations director is actually like until you test the waters. For me, I’ve always wanted to work in a nonprofit related to women’s issues. So I did some research, applied to a marketing and development internship position in a nonprofit organization, and got the internship until August! What will come out of the internship is completely up for grabs—maybe I’ll find that I enjoy marketing and asking donors for money, maybe I’ll find that it’s not challenging enough, or maybe they’ll offer me a full-time spot. Any which way you go, try before locking yourself in.

3. Participate in a service organization.

Peace Corps, City Year, Americorps: all extremely worthy options for your post-graduation plans. As I mentioned in a previous post, I wasn’t accepted into the City Year program, but doing service work is something I would love to pursue again sometime down the line. Yeah, it looks good on a resume and all that, but I think there’s something so essential about giving ourselves to others who need it more. Many of these programs offer living stipends, and I know that AmeriCorps program offers education awards that can be used to pay for educational costs at higher-level institutions.

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