We live in a culture that values education and equates it with success. We are told that the more education we get, the smarter we are and the better off we will be.

Generally speaking, this is true. Life is a constant learning process, and the more open we are to continuous learning and a growth mindset, the better we can tap into our endless potential. However, society has a crazy narrow view of education--that it has to be formal to count. We get it stuck in our heads that to reach the next level of success, we must go to graduate school.

Stop right there. While graduate school might seem like the right thing to do, you need to think critically about how it will contribute to your career and future well-being. For a lot of students, graduate school is absolutely necessary--for instance, doctors, lawyers, and professors, to name a few, must attain these degrees to become truly professional.

But for many other people, the cons of continuing education might outweigh the pros. Here are three reasons graduate school could ruin your career:

1. Grad school won't tell you what your dream job is.

Many people rely on graduate school to give them a passion and purpose in life, but it should actually be the opposite. The discovery of your passion and purpose should precede your decision to go to graduate school.

More education won't magically make you fall in love with a certain subject. Graduate school is hard work, and it is full of responsibilities. It's not a time for handholding. It's meant for those who have already connected with their purpose and know completely that graduate school is right for them.

Stop thinking about graduate school and start thinking about what you are actually looking for. Do you want to find a sense of purpose in the work you do? Are you still trying to figure out your innate genius? Are you looking to grow your network and find a mentor? Focus your energy on the things that will truly advance your career.

2. Grad school won't protect you from the real world.

We think going to grad school buys us time and that it makes us "more marketable" when the time comes to find a job. But here's the thing: No matter how many degrees you have, you can't rely on graduate school as a safety net. You have to truly want to do the work and find fulfillment in your career, and you don't need a degree to do this.

This is so important when you consider the job search. You have to find something you are genuinely good at, because employers will know when they are getting a great graduate or a not-so-great one. Only you can make yourself into the person you want to be and become a superstar job candidate destined for success. A degree won't do that for you.

3. Grad school finances could keep you from pursuing work you truly love.

This is a big one. While graduate school might expose you to a new world of knowledge, student debt can limit your post-degree options. The pressure to pay off student loans means you might take opportunities you might otherwise not have: You take a job because of the money and not because you love the work, you enlist in the military, or you hold off on pursuing exciting projects because they are not financially stable.

Debt can limit your independence in other ways, too: Those with a large amount of student debt are less able to move out on their own or qualify for a mortgage. Debt makes people more heavily consider the income tax rates of the states they move to.

Imagine every decision you make being based on your student loan situation. Is that the freedom you envisioned for yourself?