Graduate school offers pros and cons for students

by Lauren Stillman, reporter

For graduating students, being released into the “real world” can be stalled for more schooling. For others, the real world grabs them within their first steps off campus. Regardless of set plans before receiving a diploma, students will hear convincing sales pitches offered by graduate schools, parents or professors on which road to take.

Ultimately, the long-term question of taking a year off, getting a job or attending graduate school lies in the hands of the student.

 “Undergrad school is kind of hectic and crazy and you are just worrying about getting done and people are kind of sowing their oats and partying and doing other things”, assistant professor of political science Kedron Bardwell said, “But in graduate school you kind of really have to get serious and think what do I really want out of my life? Do I want to have a family, what kind of career do I want?”

Bardwell earned a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Iowa.

“In the first year of a lot of graduate schools there is this idea of ‘we are kind of weeding them out, we are seeing who can stay here for four years or six years.” Bardwell said.

Many believe the challenge is worth the academic trial. It allows you to create a network, get ahead of other peers and market yourself. Some professions such as healthcare require graduate school.

“In my field in order to be more marketable graduate school is pretty much a requirement,” program director of athletic training and exercise science Mike Hadden said.  “In general I think you will find that it (graduate school) does translate to a healthier income.”

Of Simpson’s athletic training majors, 75-80 percent of those students pursue graduate school. Political science keeps close track of graduates as well. About 60 percent of Simpson’s political science majors go on to study at some type of graduate school.

“For some students going right into graduate school is the right decision. Mainly if you are not tired of academics and if you have a good idea of what you want to do” Bardwell said. “If you didn’t do well in undergraduate, do not go to grad school because the academic rigor of it really takes you through a ringer.”

Others believe for some students, waiting a year to jump into graduate school is the right option. This is common with students pursing medical careers. Graduate schools do not penalize students for year taking a year off.

“The problem with it though that I have seen, is that some students are not focused enough and it is very easy to end up getting into a position, and this is good for some, some will get into a position and get away from what they went to school for,” Hadden said.

Hadden also said that a lot of parents are not confident in students taking a year off because once students receive paychecks, it is very hard to want to go back to school.

The process of graduate school, like many things in life can be a long road with unclear answers. The decision eventually comes down to where the student is in their academic and personal life.