Top 10 things more valuable than post graduate studies

I teach marketing part time at Melbourne University, and many students come and ask me about what they should do in their post graduate studies. I tell them that post graduate studies are useless unless you want to be an academic or scientist. So here’s a top 10 list of things to do instead of post graduate studies which will make you more learned, more employable and a better entrepreneur:

  1. Learn a language (Mandarin or Spanish would be my recommendation)
  2. Start a blog (on the area you want to be an expert in)
  3. Master the art of public speaking
  4. Make your home Eco friendly
  5. Mentor someone
  6. Read one non fiction book per month on a new topic
  7. Learn a musical instrument
  8. Learn to grow food
  9. Renovate something (car, dinning setting, local park, house, tree house, anhything that can be renovated)
  10. Do a part time startup business.

The reason suggestions are more valuable than post graduate studies is that they create wide perspective, most post graduate studies narrow perspective. We are entering the age of symphony, where the real value in life and business is created by our ability to make commercial music from seemingly unrelated topics and ideas. Broadening your horizons will make you a better conductor of the symphony, or at very least give you some very interesting stories to share with those you want to do projects with.

Add your better than more ‘formal’ studies idea in the comments.


9 Comments Top 10 things more valuable than post graduate studies

  1. michaeleriksson

    While there is much to the above, most of your specific suggestions do not seem plausible to me—often because they too are highly specialized and “unsymphonic”.

    Looking specifically at 1.: If someone reaches a stage where the question of graduate studies is a serious consideration, I would assume that he has already learned a second language—if not, something is amiss.

  2. Steve Sammartino

    To clarify, the point to my suggestions is exactly because they are not what you’d get from study and are “unsymphonic” in nature. Certain sounds that one would assume don’t belong together (percussion and violin for example) can be part of something rich when brought together with other very different instruments.

    In terms of post graduate students speaking a second language, more than 50% of students taking on further study do not speak a second language at my university.

    The other point I am trying to state is that most people study at a post graduate level, something very similar to their undergraduate degree, which I see as totally pointless – unless one has goals of working in Academia.


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  4. Josh Moore

    Hey Steve,

    Without trying to seem spammy, I thought you might be interested in a similar post I wrote a few weeks ago, titled ‘How to get a business education for less than $10,000.’ It was written as an alternative to an undergrad study course but the same applies to postgraduates.

    Great post. I’m already implementing many of these strategies and will have to up my efforts on some of the others.

  5. michaeleriksson

    Thank you for the clarification.

    The language issue puzzles me: Mandatory schooling in Sweden sees a minimum of two foreign languages being taught to each student. (The grasp of the second of these will typically be very weak, but still.)

    As for graduate studies, I would offer another reason, namely the wish to learn more about a specific field. This may not be a priority to you, but for many others it will be. Further, there is the wish to actually have created new knowledge or actually written something non-trivial. This may be achieved by other means, e.g. blogging, but I would not rule post-graduate studies out as an alternative even for those who later wish to leave academia. (Although a full Ph.D. may be too cost-ineffective.)

  6. Steve Sammartino

    Yes, I agree Australia is very poor for people speaking second languages, and the schools do not require it as mandatory.

    thanks again for your follow up thoughts Michael, it’s also a strong viewpoint.

  7. Andre Sammartino

    I am not going to dispute the lessons one could learn from any of those 10 pursuits, but you do need to be clear on what you mean by postgrad study Steve.

    So if an Science student asked you whether they should do an MBA or a JD (i.e. post-grad law) or even study to be a Doctor of Medicine you would suggest they’d learn more from growing food or writing a blog??

    Is this because you don’t believe you learn anything of use in said courses? And/or said careers are redundant and/or unsatisfying?

    And why are any of these options either/or?

  8. Lee

    I’m an MBA holder in the U.S. and I don’t speak a 2nd language; actually very few Americans do. Only about 22% of non-Hispanic Americans actually speak a 2nd language. (As you might guess I’m not Hispanic.) When I graduated from High School language classes were only given to advanced honors students and I took French but I don’t remember more than saying hello. My plan in 2012 is to learn Spanish (I know some) and then to add another language with at least remedial fluency each year until I have a half-dozen or so under my belt. I’d considered a PhD program because I’d really like to teach at a University but after analyzing the cost I think I can get more options out of foreign language fluency which only requires some time, dedication, and a couple hundred dollars for the materials. So far my MBA hasn’t been at all useful in this terribly depressed U.S. economy! Only time will tell. Best wishes to everyone!

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