Skip grad school. Life is better with experience.

A few weeks ago, I met a twenty-something pursuing an advanced degree in Political Science to become a professor, although he had no real-world experience in politics. I listened to Mr. Poli Sci and then I said, “How can you possibly teach something you haven’t experienced?”

Mr. Poli Sci became quite defensive at this point claiming he had objectivity (!) since he wasn’t personally involved. I tried to think of one successful person in politics that attempted to stand on both sides of the fence. Politics is about having an opinion. It’s the very definition of passion.

In talking to Mr. Poli Sci, I realized he had committed two common Generation Y sins. One, he had a vague interest in a topic, but no passion, fostering an apathetic approach towards life. Two, he went to grad school to fix it. Life is better with experience. Here’s why:

1) Grad school is good on paper, but barely. An education doesn’t allow your competencies to be realistically measured, or allow you to be differentiated among other candidates. An education simply signifies that you have completed a degree. It doesn’t provide the full picture of your marketable skills.

Moreover, an advanced degree may bring you more money, but it’s not guaranteed. What is guaranteed is the extra stress your additional student loans will create and the regret you’ll feel for wasting your efforts when you don’t end up using your degree. Seems barely worth it considering “grad school is a confidence-killing daily assault of petty degradations.”

2) Employers look for experience, so should you. Real-world experience reigns supreme over schooling. Every time. Your experience in the real-world interacting with real people and real situations allows you to be uniquely suited towards a particular position. Of course, you need education and knowledge to put places on a map. But then you have to go live life to arrive at a destination.

Sure, Mr. Poli Sci would be a good professor, but never great. Great professors have fervent opinions, they know intimately the subject matter upon which they speak, and they have formed a deep respect for the other side. Most importantly, they’ve formed these opinions as the result of real-world experience.

3) Objectivity gets you nowhere. It’s easy to be objective when you haven’t risked anything. But success in business is not objective. Decisions are based on the relationships you have with others, and the emotions of how you’ve lived life up until this point. The facts can be laid out in front of you, but it is ultimately the experiences you’ve had that determine an outcome.

4) It’s better to do something, instead of just learn about it. Why, exactly, are so many of us in such a hurry to re-institutionalize ourselves? I spent years in college yearning to be done with school. Especially the flash card part.

Going to grad school is not having the guts to get on with life. You’re not telling corporate America anything by indulging in a larger map. You’re just making it harder to figure out which road to take. Want to give the finger to the establishment? Go blog. Go start your own business. Go to work every single day and rock every single day.

Preparation is hesitation. Action is change.