Guide to grad school

The economic crisis could add heavy weight to college students and their future plans. That is why there is no better time than now to contemplate a post-graduate education.

This is a decision that should be carefully weighted by the students before they embark on the journey of prolonged education.

“Given the current economy, we know that there are many students who are approaching graduation in January and May with reservation about the job market and they opt for grad school in a way as a defense mechanism,” Joni M. O’Hagan, associate director at St. John’s Career Center, said.

“It may not necessarily be the best choice, depending on what their background is, they need to prepare themselves.”
In the United States alone, there are more than 1,400 graduate programs in the arts and sciences, as well as nearly 1,000 graduate schools available.

According to The Princeton Review, present graduate deans say that hard work is the name of the game when earning a graduate degree.

The decision not only includes making a commitment to study, but also having a passion for the game.

To put it nicely, the market is competitive when those opting for the same position as recent college graduates have doctorates or a master’s degree.

Therefore, starting early is a great beginning step to understanding your options.

“Yesterday I was researching grad schools on the internet because I want to further my degree in advertising and public relations,” Diana Morelli said, a sophomore.

“Especially in today’s world, activities such as grad school and studying abroad can set you apart from other students.”

According to a 2003 Salary.com survey, master’s degree holders earned an average of $10,000 dollars more a year than those with bachelors.

Add more years to the equation, and those with PhD’s rake in a $100,000 dollar annual salary.

The benefits also speak volumes. Earning a graduate degree can further a student’s career, boost their credentials, gain professional respect and raise their salary.

If the decision is worth a try, take note that the process and experience is completely different than the undergraduate process.

According to The Real Guide to Grad School, What you Better Know Before you Choose, the first scholarly task is to do exactly what you’re doing right now.

Put together all the advice you’re receiving along with what other guides offer and analyze which graduate school works for you.

Review scholarly journals and quiz professionals and search the Internet. Deciding where to attend is a step towards molding your professional identity.

However, make sure you are absolutely certain you are ready to make such a huge commitment to education.

“Only go if you’re 100 percent committed,” Rodrigo Tordecilla said, a recent St. John’s graduate who attends Hofstra Law School. “If you’re only 99.9 percent committed, don’t go.”

Once you have decided you want to go to graduate school, you have to decide what subject you will pursue.

This is important because this is where the “labor of love” stems from, affecting their studies over the next few years.

The application process is next and requires one to apply to a single department.

A committee made up of faculty who will be educating the specific program will then evaluate qualifications.

If they choose to accept you, congratulations. This entitles a newfound freedom. That means fewer hours in a classroom and, two or three courses a semester, which might meet only once or twice a week.

The joy even includes infrequent exams. Yet, the trade-off is that you will have few built-in-forces to keep
tasks on schedule.

“Medical school is rigorous, law school is rigorous and business school is rigorous as well,” said James Patrick Abulencia, from The Princeton Review.

“So be sure that you’re going to be willing to put in time, effort and in some cases the money, where you have to pay for school.”

Don’t let financial issues be the burdening factor against the decision to attend, either. Kathleen B. Davis, director at the office of Graduate Admissions at St. John’s University offered some advice.

“Graduate assistantships and scholarships are available in some programs, and are not determined until a student submits a complete application for admission,” Davis said.

“Financial aid, in the form of grants and loans, is determined once a student files the FAFSA.”

Despite the odds, more than 5,000 students are committed to St. John’s University’s Graduate Studies, which they offer more than 100 programs in the Arts and Sciences, Biotechnology, Business, Continuing and Professional Studies, Education, Pharmacy, and Law.

Depending on your chosen undergraduate major, speak to your advisor about possible five-year graduate
programs intertwined with undergraduate courses.

Tobin College of Business, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Science and the College of Professional Studies do partake in such programs.

What may seem as a rigorous choice to begin with, could leave you with a bright future filled with numerous opportunities. The choice is yours.