By Amanda Brody, Erin Furman and Karmin Jones
You’re down to your last semester of college and you can finally take a deep breath because you can say goodbye to ten page papers, all-nighters, and exams, whew! After graduation which path do you decide: work, graduate school or a little of both? Across the country, more and more students are looking at graduate school as a place to go after receiving their undergraduate degree. Some go right away, while others choose to spend a year or two in their field before choosing a specialty.
Due to the failing economy, many students are actually looking into graduate school as a favorable option, instead of going straight into the workplace. According to a survey by Kaplan, their test prep courses for business, law and graduate school exams have seen a 45 percent increase from last year. Worldwide the GMAT, the exam required by most business graduate programs has seen an 11.6 percent jump this year.
Now many business schools and other graduate programs are re-configuring the number of students they will accept because their application numbers have dramatically increased. According to the Kaplan survey, many business schools report that they are considering expanding the number of seats by up to 25 percent as early as Fall 2009.
But for some, the economy is exactly why they are choosing to get a job now and put off graduate school for a couple of years. Danielle Sereno, a senior marketing major plans to go for her MBA within the next two years. She says, “ I don’t have the money now to go directly to grad school because I still have to pay off all my loans from undergrad.”
And some employers actually pay for part or all of your graduate degree.
Others like Lauren Keough, a senior mathematics and education major, plans to enter a graduate program immediately following graduation. “I’m going to grad school because I am completely happy doing what I’m doing right now,” says Keough. “I know for some majors, it’s better to work for a year and then consider a graduate degree. However, I think with math it’s hard to take a year off and get back into the swing of things.”
Leah Engel, a current Hofstra graduate student also made the jump straight to grad school. Engel who received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from George Washington University in 2008 decided to get a Psy D. in School-Community Psychology at Hofstra.
“The decision to go to grad school was not so much a decision for me, but rather a necessity,” says Engel. “I got my B.A. in psychology, but you can’t actually do anything in the field with only a B.A.”
But taking a year or two off for some majors can be crucial when deciding upon a specialty in a given field. Kelly Goldberg, an anthropology major, says she would like to explore a variety of fields before choosing one branch of anthropology to study more closely. “I want to be able to change my mind before it’s too late if I decide that’s not what I want to do,” says Goldberg, who is considering teaching middle school, as well as entering the fields of archaeology or cultural diversity, among other things.
“As an undergraduate, you get a sampling of different fields,” says Goldberg. In a master’s or doctorate degree in anthropology, candidates must choose a specific topic or a specific region in the world to study. Goldberg says, “right now I am just interested in too many fields to choose just one.”
Some students choose to go to specialty graduate schools, such as law or medical school, because it is something they have always dreamed of. Peter Napoli, a senior business major just finished taking his LSATs and is now looking into a law degree from either Hofstra, St. John’s University or Pennsylvania State University. He says he wants to go to law school because, “ I love to argue, I enjoy doing research, it pays well and I can do almost anything I want in business with a law degree.”
Whether you choose to study business, medicine, liberal arts or law keep in mind that graduate school is very different from college as an undergraduate. In graduate school you are not taking electives, or general studies classes, instead you are taking classes strictly focused on your major. You also don’t have to worry about exams because you are doing more research and learning through applied methods as opposed to theoretical ones. Usually the typical graduate school student focuses their time and energy, working on their thesis.
Also graduate school usually takes less than four years depending on whether or not you go full time or part time or if you are going for a master’s degree versus a doctorate.
So whichever path you choose, consider graduate school.
Pros of Graduate School
-Higher salary after graduation
-Certain Jobs will pay for it
-No more midterms or final exams
-Teachers treat you as equals
Cons of Graduate School
– At least two more years of school
– It’s more expensive
– Writing a 100 page thesis
– A lot more writing in general
– Later start in life as opposed to peers.