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Grad school beneficial, depending on career path

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For those who are undecided about graduate school, there are a number of benefits to higher education beyond undergraduate years.  The present state of the economy could be cause for upcoming college graduates to debate whether or not to pursue graduate studies.  It may depend on a student’s chosen field of study, or concerns regarding economic problems and a difficult job market.

Certain industries may require more than four years of college as the highest level of education a student obtains.  Many professional job titles indicate that a person in that profession holds not only a masters degree, but also a doctorate.  Examples of this can be seen around Cabrini, including professors, counselors and the administration side of the college.

Graduate school has its pros and cons, allowing higher pay for greater expertise in a student’s chosen field, yet more educational debt.  Choosing to go to graduate school may lead to more in-depth field opportunities, yet other aspects of life could be disrupted or held off.

At a time when the economy is unstable, graduate school may be a place to keep building skills and gain higher-level internship opportunities.  Throughout graduate school, a student will also be able to build upon his or her professional network as well.  Once a student graduates with his or her master’s degree, economic situations change and an even more expansive network will be on hand.

“Because the job market isn’t all that good, people who can’t find jobs are going to grad school,” Dr. Dennis Dougherty, interim Ddan of graduate and professional studies, said.  “Others come back after a couple of years experience and they bring that to the classroom.”

Dougherty said that Cabrini’s graduate business program requires three years of leadership experience before coming back.  Dougherty said also that there are a lot of career changers in the graduate education program.

In those cases, students could be pursuing the education field or the desire to be formally trained to teach their previous fields to others.  Therefore, graduate school would yield two possible benefits to students training at Cabrini or elsewhere to be educators.

“Because the job market isn’t all that good, people who can’t find jobs are going to grad school,” Dr. Dennis Dougherty, Interim Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, said.  “Others come back after a couple of years experience and they bring that to the classroom.”

Dougherty said that Cabrini’s graduate business program requires three years of leadership experience before coming back.  Dougherty said also that there are a lot of career changers in the graduate education program.

In those cases, students could be pursuing the education field or the desire to be formally trained to teach their previous fields to others.  Therefore, graduate school would yield two possible benefits to students training at Cabrini or elsewhere to be educators.

Some potential graduate school applicants may be concerned that the current economic problems will lead to smaller educational loans.  There are some particular things that applicants need to know regarding the financial aspect of pursuing graduate studies.

“Almost all government funding stops after you receive your first bachelor degree,” Mike Colahan, Cabrini’s director of financial aid, said.  Colahan said also that most graduate classes are on a per credit basis and it wouldn’t be recommended to borrow high amounts such as $20,000.

“I don’t think it’s difficult at all,” Colahan said of obtaining graduate school funding.  “You just have to realize you are going through a loan program.”

Undergraduate education is often made possible for students with the help of grants that don’t have to be paid back.  Colahan said that at the graduate level, a student’s source of funding would not be through a grant anymore.

While funding graduate school may cause great concern for many applicants, they also have to balance the earning potential from that degree level.

“Grad school can be beneficial,” Dr. John Cordes, assistant professor of communication, said.  “It gives the chance to delve deeper into subjects and often it prepares you for a high salary job.”

An article by Careerbuilder writer and blogger Rachel Zupek shows a list of various career fields with incomes based on bachelors and masters degrees.  The starting salaries in some fields differ by $5,000, while others go up by $20,000 with a masters degree.  The salary information in Zupek’s article, entitled, “Bachelor’s vs. Master’s:  How Does Your Salary Stack Up?” comes from http://www.CBsalary.com.

Another benefit of pursuing graduate studies right after college is with graduate-level study abroad programs.  At this level, a student can go out into a research location with greater expertise in his or her field of study.  Also, graduate school is another opportunity to study abroad for any student who was not able to do so during his or her undergraduate years.

Many graduate study abroad programs are offered through Global Study Experience, http://www.gseabroad.com, including a wide variety of countries to choose from.

Plans for graduate school and career pursuits varied among Cabrini alumni and current students.

Class of ’07 alumni Charles Grugan relayed via email the educational and career plans he had while in his last two years at Cabrini.

“During my junior and senior years, I was more focused on getting a job to start my career in the field of graphic design,” Grugan said.  “Money was a huge factor.  I already had student loans and the company that I was working for, upon graduation would not help pay for graduate classes.”

Grugan said also that some companies will do that for their employees.

This could be viewed as another benefit to pursuing graduate school, with an employer as a possibly source of funding for pursuing your masters.  It may be a difficult deal to find during economic times when so many companies are cutting back.  However, that could also depend on the overall success of a particular industry and companies within it.

“After being in the field for a year or two, my thoughts shifted a bit and I became interested in continuing my education,” Grugan said.  “Now that I’m on my fourth year in the field, I have taken steps to go back to school at Philadelphia University and I hope to be there within the next year.”

The work of graphic designers in particular can be seen everywhere, regardless of the economic situation.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is said to be one such field with 13 percent expected growth from 2008 to 2018.  Therefore, it could be an industry in which some companies can assist employees with higher education.

Students will need to watch the trends of their chosen field, and how related companies are doing in the economy for such indications.

“I’m going to go to grad school hopefully, probably just English,” Katie Parks, a junior, said.  “That’s where I’m at right now.”

With a double major in English and Spanish, and a minor in communication, Parks said her choices are University of Delaware, UPenn and Villanova.

“I’m planning on going to grad school right after college,” Allison Udris, a senior psychology major, said.  Udris, who also minors in Spanish, said she is applying to University of Maryland and wants to go for a masters in clinical psychology.

For those who are considering or definitely planning to go to graduate school, a variety of tips are provided by college professor and writer Tara Kuther.  According to her http://www.about.com bio, Kuther has a doctorate in developmental psychology.  Readers can sign up to receive free tips including in her graduate school guide e-newsletter.

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