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Working WildCat: Gearing up for graduate school

Ariel Hernandez

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Ariel Hernandez


Starting a new chapter in life is often accompanied by fear of the unknown. This is a common feeling for seniors in the spring semester, when they haven’t quite figured out what to do after the buzz of graduation wears off.

The possibility of graduate school may have crossed your mind, depending on what your goals are.

Graduate school is an investment of both time and money, so you want to make sure you get the best return in the long run.

Depending on the program and type of institution, private or public, the cost can range from $3,000 to $50,000 or more per semester. Multiply that by two to four years and add 6.8 percent monthly unsubsidized loan interest for a solid understanding of why graduate school isn’t the best route for those trying to avoid getting a job and paying their own bills.

If you are like me — passionate about continuing your education- and need the degree to obtain your dream job, then graduate school may be a worthwhile investment.

Finances were a major concern when I began my graduate school search. I personally funded my undergraduate career and was adamant about not gaining any debt while pursuing a master’s degree.

Luckily, there are scholarships, fellowships, assistantships and employer sponsorships that can cover most or all of tuition. Depending on academic achievement, experience accumulated over the undergraduate years and employer connections, this may be a viable option to help defer the hefty cost of tuition.

However, money isn’t the only large investment graduate programs demand.

Students can skate by with C’s in their undergraduate career. Skipping classes, not reading textbooks and doing the bare minimum won’t suffice for students facing the demanding curriculum of a graduate program. The majority of graduate programs consider a B- failing, and tend to require significantly more time and dedication than undergraduate education.

Due to the increased academic requirements, your personal life, which might have once been consumed by sorority parties and keg stands, will likely fade as you transition into graduate school.

The rigorous curriculum is something to consider at length when thinking about graduate school. If you aren’t ready to devote a large portion of your time to research, practicums and lengthy papers, graduate school may not be a good fit.

For some, myself included, graduate school is an exciting opportunity to relocate.

For others, this means uprooting their life, which can be difficult. It’s important to understand that with the great possibilities that graduate school offers, personal sacrifices may be required.

If you have a family or significant other, you will need to consider the effects that relocation may have on your personal relationships.

You shouldn’t attend graduate school because you are uncertain about your career prospects or to be like Van Wilder, spending the better part of your 20s in college. However, if you are certain about your career path, passionate about what you want to study and willing to dedicate time and money to it, graduate school might be the right choice for you.

Ariel Hernandez can be reached at [email protected] or @aj7uriel on Twitter.

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Working WildCat: Gearing up for graduate school