Why Graduate School?

By Jenny Edengard

Do I really need to go to graduate school? Well, the answer depends on what field you want to work in. It is always good to check what prerequisites you need to have in order to have a fair chance at getting your dream job. Many students find it impossible to find the funds to pay for graduate school. While others might have the funds, but feel it isn’t worth their time.

I come from Stockholm, Sweden where most people have at least a bachelor’s degree, but more often than not, they have a graduate degree. In most countries, the more formal education you have, the better your chances are for landing your dream job. In Sweden, however, it has become more of a necessity over the past years. I think the reason why so many people have a master’s degree in Sweden is because we don’t have to pay any tuition. Paying for school is never an issue, however, people’s motivation might inhibit them from going.

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Our educational system is quite different; the government pays for any student from first-grade and up to go to any university or graduate school that they wish. You can achieve as many degrees as you wish, for “no cost at all.” In addition, every student that enrolls in school full-time, and who studies no less than 12 credits each semester, gets an allowance of roughly $350 a month to pay for school supplies such as notebooks and textbooks.

The government also provides a student loan for students who want to study abroad in locations where they will need to pay for tuition. Some students in Sweden take the loan because they have to relocate to another city for their studies, and therefore, need money for housing, food, etc.

The student loan has a low interest rate of 1%, and they allow you to pay it back at your own speed. However, it needs to be cleared by the time you turn 50 years old. This all sounds pretty great, right? However, having free education does come with a price – higher taxes.

In the U.S., things are different. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2013, 33.6 percent of U.S. Citizens between the ages 25-29 have an undergraduate degree, and 7.4 percent of students in the United States have a graduate degree. Students who achieve a graduate degree in the U.S. are increasing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2014, for the same age group, 34.04 percent of U.S Citizens earned an undergraduate degree.Moreover, students that achieved a graduate degree increased to 7.57 percent.

Students might want to go to graduate school, but cannot financially pay for it. Others Screen shot 2015-03-23 at 11.16.23 AMmight prefer to work their way up and continue learning at a workplace instead of spending more time in school. In the U.S., many employers pay for graduate education so their employees can get a degree while they are working.

No matter where you study, education has a price. In the U.S, you pay directly from savings or a student loan. In Sweden, you pay indirectly by having to pay higher taxes.

Lana Celnik, a junior English major, said she would want to go to graduate school and get a master’s degree in publishing and editing, but that the cost might make it impossible. “I would like to go to get a better education for the field I desire to work in,” said Celnik.

However, if your field requires a graduate degree then there is no getting around it. “I’m going to graduate school, to get a Master of English and a PhD because it is required for becoming a college professor, which is what I aim [to do],” said Shela Raman, a senior English Literature major, who wants to teach English.

Many fields require professional degrees such as lawyers, doctors, architects, engineers, professors, and scientists, to name a few.

So why go to graduate school if it is not requirement for employment? First, continuing your studies is beneficial. Not only does it add more knowledge, but it also adds to your personal growth. As you continue to challenge yourself, you will expand your mind. Second, the more education you have, the more options you will have as it can open more doors for employment. Third, according to the United States Census Bureau, people with a master’s degree or higher, earn roughly 30 percent more annually than people with a college degree. Therefore, a master’s degree can be an investment that truly pays off.

An education alone doesn’t guarantee your success. However, there is no such thing as too much knowledge.

The best thing to do is to figure out what you want to do, and to find out if your dream job requires a master’s degree. However, if this sounds like an impossible task, the best thing to do is to have a starting point; eliminate everything that you don’t want to do so that you know what choices you have left. A good idea would be to figure out what you want to do in the future. Is your goal to gain work experience? Or would you like to continue with your studies?

Many students already know where they want to work, and don’t feel the need to go to graduate school. “For my major, [graduate school] isn’t needed, and to be able to start working when you are young is a key factor for actors so spending more time in school is wasting your time,” said Kelsey D’Andrea, a junior Musical Theatre major, who wants to become an actress.

Catherine Bihun, a junior Psychology major, is going to graduate school for Psychology in order “to get as much education as possible, and to have more options.”

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Whatever you choose to do, whether it is graduate school or not, remember to pick a field that you are passionate about. If you love what you do then whether you are studying or working, you will strive instead of suffer.

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