Professional student or nah?

Professional student is a term that cracks me up every time. I don’t know about you but I have no plans to be a professional student. I got my 3 degrees, am good! A professional student is some one who keeps going to school and accumulating degrees instead of starting a career. A lot of immigrants involuntarily find themselves in this category.

I hear a lot of people say immigrants especially Nigerians, Indians and Chinese are so educated. Majority of them go for post-graduate degrees. That is very commendable!

There’s just one thing though:  Finding a job as an F1 student is not easy, sometimes it is downright difficult. Especially if you are not in the field of computer science or certain health care careers. So then sometimes going back to school is the only way to maintain their legal stay in America. However for a few, they truly really want to get their post-graduate degree so they go back.

Generally for anybody, finding a job is no joke and very strenuous but for most immigrants  on F1 visa (student visa) they have a  clock ticking, counting down to when they have to leave the USA. Which makes it worse. Most immigrants do not want to go back home so they keep going back to school with the hopes of getting a  job once they are done.

Whether you are going  back to get your Master’s or PHD: here are a few questions you want to think about.

  1. What exactly do you want?

I know this sounds like a really easy question but sometimes it is very hard to answer. Are you living and doing what you want or are you doing what others want you to do? Are you doing what produces fulfillment or are you just mere chasing money without the joy and  fulfillment?

2. What will you do with your degree

So let us fast foreword 5 years after PHD or 2 years after your Master’s, then what?  Now you have your degree in your hand.. so? If your plan is something like “then I will get a job” Let me employ you to be more realistic as to what kind of job and be aware of things like OPT and several deadlines. If you do not have a plan for your degree, that puts you in a position for success without necessarily depending on the system, Please re-think and regroup.

3. What will your degree change?

It is very expensive to pay for PHDs and Master’s, it is also time consuming. While they are great to have, what will a degree change with relation to your work experience,  resident status or even ability to get a job. Maybe you have not been able to get a job because you have no work experience. Will going back to school make it any easier for you to get  job? if in undergrad you were not sociable and did not create networks, what will your degree change?  getting jobs and businesses are heavily based on networking. If your goal is to land a job, the focus is to network better. Even if you do decide to get another degree.

4. Do you really need that degree

I am a huge supporter of education. Applied knowledge is power, but what’s the point of education if it doesn’t work in your favor? what is the point of accumulating debt and you have no way to pay it off, or spend years in school just get a job that any high school student can get.  Going back to my number 1 question. After you find what you want to do, ask yourself if you can get to your goals without accumulating another degree. If your answer is no then by all means make sure you go get your degree.

However if your answer is yes. Your energy needs to be focused on how to make it happen, building networks and the likes. However you can still go get your Master’s or PhD (either because you want to buy more time or because you really like school) which ever way, you have a plan. That plan will make your education work for you.

Making your education work for you is the whole point of getting an education in the first place, Right?



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