The horrid thought of graduate school

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So you graduated… what’s next?

So here we are, about the time one usually ends their college career and moves on to better things. It is year four, which brings the dreaded decision: shall I begin my career path in this world? Or shall I go to graduate school?

The thing about this thought is that both are inevitably terrifying. What I don’t understand, however, is what is so terrifying about graduate school and why is it a thought for every college student.

Considering I am about to graduate myself, part of me thinks that graduate school is just another way for me to stall my career search. I also think that it will benefit me in the long-run and allow me to show employers what I love doing and that I’m educated in those things. I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

“Ironically, I was a person who said I would never go to graduate school. As I’ve moved through my education, though, I see the value in being a ‘master’ at something and continuing to set yourself apart,” said senior agricultural media and communications major, Alaina Africano, “I also want to put more emphasis on my communication and media skills, where my true passion lies.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, postbaccalaureate degree program (degree programs after undergraduate including masters and doctorates) enrollment has been increasing since the year 2000. Along with that, educationdata.org states that 45.8% of college students in Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree, but only 18.6% of college students in Texas graduate with a master’s degree. Why the big drop?

When looking at these statistics, I realize why there is such a big drop from bachelor’s degree enrollment to master’s degree enrollment. People like myself are the reason. The thought of even beginning research for this thesis thing is terrifying. There is a preconception that the academic work in a master’s program is 100 times more rigorous than that in a bachelor’s program, which is already difficult and draining as it is. Plus, I will have put in four and a half years of uninterrupted college work when I graduate, and then continuing to do two more years or more? That is exhausting just to think about. As if I needed a third reason to be scared, more school equals more costs, which college kids in general just simply don’t have.

There are multiple reasons as to why graduate school can be intimidating for undergraduate students.

“It comes down to self-confidence. I would like to go to graduate school somewhere bigger than WTAMU, but that also requires pushing myself out of my comfort zone. As I look through the applications, I catch myself asking, ‘well why would they choose me?’ or ‘what do I have to offer over other students who may have a more impressive education?’. For me, it ultimately comes down to getting over my fears and taking on the challenge one step at a time instead of getting overwhelmed at the big picture,” Africano said.

Whether it be the competitiveness, the academic work, or possible further financial burden, graduate school is a scary thing to face as an upcoming college graduate. The important thing to remember is that we are already accomplishing something that seems “impossible”, college, and we can accomplish anything else as well.

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