The daily grind of school has come back into full swing. For some underclassmen, this is a time of making the grade and taking the required steps towards a career in the visible future. Others are worrying about maintaining a solid GPA, standardized tests, application fees and obtaining letters of recommendation in addition to their jobs and mounting homework.
“I dedicated my summer to grad school preparation,” Danielle Murphy, senior psychology, sociology and religious studies major, said. Murphy’s current plans are to go as far as to receive her doctorate in psychology and eventually open up her own practice.
Taking a Graduate Record Exam preparation course twice a week for the month of June, taking the GREs twice, deciding what schools to apply to, researching the school’s admission requirements and getting ready to meet with professors to receive letters of recommendation are just a few of the steps that Murphy has taken this summer.
There are a variety of search engines that students can use to find the graduate school that best fits their needs. Petersons.com and Gradschools.com are two Web sites that allow students to narrow down their search by program and location. These sites also provide links to the school’s Web site, which lists admission requirements, tuition, the faculty and information on the program.
While receiving a bachelor’s degree has become the standard level of education, there are more students who are looking to go to graduate school in order to distinguish themselves from others. The difficulty of admission for graduate programs varies by institution, but students can take measures to give them an edge over others.
“A student who wishes to get into graduate school has to apply him or herself as strongly as possible; showing a sense of involvement in the community, a sense of activism, a sense of commitment. That’s something admission committees would look at and see this particular student is different from the average student,” Dr. Michael Markowitz, dean of graduate studies at Cabrini, said.
One of the most pivotal requirements to being accepted into many graduate school programs are to excel in the GREs. These are standardized tests that measure verbal reasoning, critical thinking, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing skills, according to ETS.org.
“I would really advise any student who is looking into a program that requires standardized tests to take a prep course that enables the student to learn about the test. That maximizes their chances of doing as well as possible,” Markowitz said.
Murphy is one of the many students who opted to take a GRE preparation course, rather than study from the manual herself.
“Reading from a book is not as effective for me as sitting in a classroom and learning from a teacher who knows the test backwards and forwards. I feel like now I know a lot about the theory,” Murphy said.
Graduate school can become expensive, especially for students who already have loans to pay off, but there are options to lighten the financial load. Having your employer pay for a portion of your credits is something that students actively pursue. Seeking a teaching assistantship at the university to which one is applying is also a popular option. This will decrease tuition slightly, and provide a small salary for the student.
Many students tend to go to a graduate school that is different from where they have received their undergraduate degree, while others strive to get into a five-year bachelor plus master program and enjoy the familiarity of the campus where they began their college studies. Most Cabrini students do not have the latter option.
Cabrini does not currently have an extensive number of graduate programs, but enrolls 1,500 students currently in the Master of Education and Certification in Education, Masters of Science in Instructional Systems and Technology and Masters of Science in Organization Leadership. To be accepted into the MSOL program it is required that one must possess work experience.
Cabrini plans to offer a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice Administration in the near future, and is currently awaiting the approval of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
As Cabrini’s graduate program slowly grows, it causes underclassmen to reflect whether they would consider staying at Cabrini or branching out at a new school and environment.
“I think I would be really tempted to stay at Cabrini because of how much I’ve enjoyed my experience and the time I’ve spent here, especially since I know everyone so well. It’s a community here and it’s hard to think about leaving. But at the same time, I do want to experience something new,” Murphy said.
Going on to further education can mean an increase in salary in one’s profession, but it also means more studying, more papers, more tests and more money. For students who already spent four years in college, the option of going back is not always a tempting one.
“My academics have already taken over my life, but I enjoy it. I love learning; I love doing my work. I’m 21, I probably should be going out. But I really enjoy it and I’m hoping I’ll still enjoy it and I’ll still be passionate about what I’m learning. It’s not really a burden to me to have all this work to do,” Murphy said.
Time management can be the key to getting one’s work done appropriately while still being able to go out with friends and enjoy being young, as long as class and studying remains number one.
While Murphy continues this semester and prepares for the coming psychology GREs and awaits responses from the colleges in which she applied, she looks to the future with both apprehension and awe.
“I’m going to be going crazy a little, but I think I’ll love it. I’m excited.”