Grad School: Worth it?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 02, 2009 6:41 AM GMT
    How's it going guys?

    I've been wondering what to do with my life after college.

    In all honesty I would rather be a personal trainer but I feel that having good education is always something good to fall back on.

    My dilemma is that I want a job that can complement my bodybuilding lifestyle and I feel that having more education will allow me to have a job where I can have more time to recuperate physically from training.

    Part of me wants to go to grad school because I love college, Part of me is because I'm afraid of the real world.

    Tell me was it easy for you to get into grad school. Was it worth it for you?
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    Nov 02, 2009 8:35 AM GMT
    My teachers want me to get my Masters, which sounds like fun, but I don't want to go through my savings, so I'm confused myself.
    The Grad students I know are always frantic - manic even - they don't even have time to get laid.

    P.S. I was a trainer - never could save any $ doing that.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 02, 2009 1:35 PM GMT
    Hey sexylatin:

    It wasn't easy to get into graduate school. Then again, I applied to universities with relatively low acceptance rates. Depending on what you want to study, you may want to aim for the "best" schools, simply because your likelihood of finding a job after graduation may be easier. Know in advance that the "best" schools can be more serious and have older and more competitive students than a good school.

    Two pieces of advice:

    # 1. Don't go to graduate school just because you love college; nothing will EVER come close to the college experience. Instead, go to graduate school because you're passionate about a particular "thing". I say that because you will most likely have to rely on federal or private loans (scholarship money isn't abundant at the graduate level). Point blank -- you don't want to go into debt for something you don't even enjoy.

    # 2. When you've decided what you want to be when you "grow up," find two or three people in your community who currently work in your chosen field. Take a chance by asking them if you could stop by their office to ask about their experiences and to garner education/career advice. Having a mentor can be invaluable if you find the right one!

    Good luck!

  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Nov 02, 2009 3:45 PM GMT
    Well, I think grad school is way more fun than undergrad, but it depends on the program. Also, many grad schools fund you (aside from things like law, business, or medicine); I am not going to leave grad school with a hand full of cash, but it doesn't cost me anything to attend and my earning potential drastically increases. I would say take a year off and see how you feel then. And to respond your question about getting in, it depends on the program and how badly you want to attend the "best." My first year I applied to five groups, all considered the top five in the country, and got into one with no funding; I reapplied a year later to 16 schools (including the original 5) and was accepted into 2, including the number 2 and 7 program in the country, full funding from both. I spend close to 3,000 between application fees, but I realized long term it would better me financially. You have to ask yourself if you're willing to apply to a few "safety" schools (though even those are harder to get into nowadays) and if you truly have it in you to be in those top programs.
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    Nov 02, 2009 3:48 PM GMT
    Ditto to the above. Take a year off to decide which programs (if any) are best for you. I wish I had icon_rolleyes.gif
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Nov 02, 2009 4:03 PM GMT
    While there are many potentially good reasons to go to grad school, loving college is not one of them. Grad school is really very little like undergrad (oddly, law and medicine are more like undergrad than most other grad programs, as they at least are focused on classes rather than research and there's a much more defined time frame), and if you go in expecting it to be like staying in college longer you'll be sorely disappointed. Talk to some of the grad student in your current school's program to get an idea of what grad school is actually like.

    To answer the original questions, I can't really comment on how easy it is to get in to grad school. For one, that is variable across disciplines and universities. For another, when going through the first grad school application process I had extremely high test scores, graduated summa, had spent two years in a research lab at the time I graduated college, etc. When going through the 2nd I had an MS from Stanford, had had multiple fellowships, and personally knew each professor I applied to work with. Neither of those circumstances are typical. As for whether it's worth it for me, well, the job I want is teaching at a college -- either a liberal arts school or a research university. In my field, you need a PhD for either of those. I will say that having a definite reason why you want the degree makes it a lot harder to deal with the intermittent times when you inevitably question what the heck you're doing.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 02, 2009 4:08 PM GMT
    totally worth it! your education is something that will stay with you for life, in my opinion is it worth the trouble, good luck!
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    Nov 02, 2009 5:11 PM GMT
    It depends on the field (already mentioned but worth reiteration). In mine, anything but a PhD would be laughed at.
  • davidnta

    Posts: 86

    Nov 02, 2009 7:57 PM GMT
    I'm currently doing my Ph.D., and I'm loving it. I'm getting paid to read and teach undergraduates, what more can't I love about this path.

    But current warning on graduate education:

    1. Find something that you're passionate about. My MA was 30 hours. My Ph.D. will be 48 hours.

    2. Don't go where you won't get funding. Why pay for your higher education when departments fund students (this is for the social sciences. I don't know how other sciences, humanities, or trade programs work).

    3. Go to a school where the professors study what you want to study. It'll be hard to study something none of the professors have any interest or knowledge in.

    So the current train of thought is that a bachelor degree is the new high school degree, since our country emphasizes a college education. So anything beyond a bachelor will give you an advantage in whatever you decide you want to do.

    Good luck in whatever you want to do.
  • Melos

    Posts: 264

    Nov 02, 2009 8:20 PM GMT
    My choice to continue on to grad school was a lot easier than most. Before finishing my bachelor's I knew that I was going to get a master's down the road, just not sure if I should go and get a job first or stay in school. My department currently offers a special combined BS/MS program to try and get students to continue on in to grad school and hopefully on to a PHD. Since my GPA was high enough, I was invited in to the program. All I had to do was write why I wanted to go to grad school, get 3 letters of recommendation and I was in. I did not have to formally apply, did not have to take the GRE or anything else. I would have been dumb to not take the opportunity (being at a school that is in the top 5 for my major made the choice even better).

    Some people suggested that you take a year off. This has some pros and cons that you need to think about. It will definitely give you some time to think about what you want to do with your life and what you like. However, it will also take you out of the school environment and out of your current mindset. It may be hard to go back and have to stress about exams, papers, and homework when you have been free from it all and your work day ends at 5 like everyone else.

    My best bit of advice would be to talk to others in your department. Find out what other grad students do and what they think of the experience as it varies across schools and degrees. If you are close with any professors, talk to them as soon as possible and see if they have any opportunities available that pique your interest.

    One thing I love about grad school that I don't think has been mentioned yet is that it finally brought a closure to a lot of my undergraduate classes (not sure if this only happens in engineering or not). Things that are briefly mentioned are finally explained to you in detail so that you can fully understand and appreciate the learning experience.

    Good luck with whichever option you choose and try to have fun!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 02, 2009 8:28 PM GMT
    Thanks guys for the advice:

    I kind of like the idea that CaliBro had of taking a year off. I'm a little hesitant about that though because I think it would be kind of awkward to stay in touch with professors for a whole entire year when I won't be around campus much.

    I've also learned why I kind of don't want to join the job market. To join the job market I feel that I'm going to have to move to some big city like Atlanta. But living here I found out that I HATE HATE HATE the suburban life.

    My favorite type of atmosphere is of the college town where I can drive, bike, walk, or take the bus without any strange looks. I've gone weeks without driving. Living in Orlando prior to being here, I hated the cookie cutter houses, the driving, the rudeness, just the whole feeling that everyone is in their own world.

    I have made friends so easily here and I could definitely see myself in a dense city like SanFran or NY. I just hate sprawl with a passion. I like meeting people and meeting the friend of a friend that lives next door you know.

    Do you think it would be a bad idea to do something like Peace Corps or to backpack through Europe?

    Also has anybody used lol
  • kietkat

    Posts: 342

    Nov 02, 2009 8:49 PM GMT
    Yes everyone above mentioned some very important aspects. Just because you're thinking about grad school doesn't mean it's gonna be easy to get into a respectable program (unless of course you're doing an MBA at say University of Phoenix). Grad school application process is beyond horrible: GPA, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and other qualifying factors can render it beyond the reach of the mediocre student.

  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Nov 02, 2009 9:27 PM GMT
    I've used and I highly recommend it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 02, 2009 9:39 PM GMT
    in this economic climate, you need all the competitive edges you can get. Grad school may just be one of those for you.

    Personally, me going to grad school was one of the best decisions I've ever made for myself.

    It's over in May. I might cry, because it is really REALLY hard, but VERY rewarding.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 02, 2009 9:49 PM GMT
    I'd say get it done while you're still young. It's a much tougher road to hoe when you're working full time...
  • cowboyathlete

    Posts: 1346

    Nov 02, 2009 10:05 PM GMT
    I work in a graduate school of public health. The ages of people here are across the board, but I would strongly suggest you think about what you want to do with your degree when you are done. One woman here has racked up a crippling student loan debt. She is clearly a unique case.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 03, 2009 10:23 PM GMT
    Every human being have choices, with that being said you have the option to pursue or not to pursue your aspirations in life. In my case, I choose the former. After finishing my masters degree in nursing years ago and after 17 years of practice as a registered nurse I've made a very drastic decision of pursuing my medical degree. I'm halfway done. The only regret I have is that my 8 year relationship with my BF suffered as he was supportive at first then later on died down and so with our relationship (a complicated situation actually). The other half of my being right now is struggling due to the repercussions on the break-up but the pursuit of my dreams is my motivation to go on. What I have in mind is that once I'm done with will make me happy and in return I could make someone happy as well. The bottom line of my choice is this....(I hope the poster of this topic will find this helpful as well)
    1. I don't want to continue with my journey in life wondering and questioning myself everyday as to why I haven't fulfilled what I really WANT to do in life
    2. Being fulfilled and being self-actualized is the highest NEED that man can achieve and YES I want to savor it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 03, 2009 10:44 PM GMT
    I did my MBA through an online program. It required the same info as any other standard university and the teachers are of high caliber. So, please take it easy on the "other" schools. They may not have storied tradition, but they are sound and employers are recognizing them (Duke Univ. Medical Center, for one).

    To your question sexylatinboi, take your time to decide. Depending on what you are going into, picking the right school for you is very important. You need to love what you are studying and be dedicated to fulfilling the requirements of the program. It will not be hard and it is totally unlike undergrad. So take your time in making a decision.
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    Nov 04, 2009 2:55 PM GMT
    I don't know, is it? Graduate school is not for everybody and is an individual decision. Going back for more education because you're afraid of the change isn't good either.
  • rnch

    Posts: 11502

    Nov 04, 2009 3:27 PM GMT
    if you work for the feds, forget about it!

    i am a career federal civil service employee. compared to what the feds pay extra for advanced education; the financial and emotional investment is not worth the increase in salary. icon_sad.gif