I would like for every student on campus clinging to this newspaper through the first stretch of a 9 a.m. class, every soldier in the struggle against the alarm clock, every student longing for the naptime of preschool, to applaud themselves.
By being successful college students, you have all reached the bare minimum for financial security in today’s insanely competitive job market.
There was a time when a four-year degree was a luxury and a professional degree made you a commodity. In those days, graduate education was reserved for individuals financially suited to put off a career. The nation’s job market seemed limitless in a period when computers were a fledgling enterprise and business just needed more people to get things rolling.
However, financial flexibility in education is resulting in overwhelming numbers of college graduates – a 40 percent increase between 1993 and 2003, according to the National Science Foundation. Coupled with an economic slowdown, the demand for educational experience is being saturated as the number of graduates grows at a rate faster than that of new job opportunities.
Understandably, college graduates are turning to grad school to exhibit a sufficient amount of competence in their field, or to improve upon an imperfect college record – and why not? CNN Money reveals that the difference in lifetime earnings between an individual with a professional degree and one with a bachelor’s degree is $2 million.
Nevertheless, post-graduate education is not a socioeconomic ladder. It is not an extension of the college experience, or a time to leisurely locate your niche. The decision is made on specific motivations: strong interest in a field of study, pre-condition for a doctoral program, or recommendation of higher learning by employers in your field of interest.
Grad school, on average, results in $25,000 in student-loan debt, excluding interest and unemployment time. Therefore, it is imperative to decide upon a field of study as soon as possible. Factor in financial freedom, and research the quality of a program as well as successful recruitment rates by employers at one’s university.
Students finding comfort in the idea that college is a time to be patient and make career decisions over the years are apt to realize that others in their class are making those decisions much earlier.
If post-tertiary education is a viable option for you, it is important to realize that acceptance in itself is not any sort of success. Underestimating the value of one’s time is a common mistake. While attending grad classes, students are encouraged to examine the placement record of their institutions, as well as the relationship of the institution with certain company recruiters. Many Fortune 500 companies have slight preferences, and are more likely to select graduates from certain schools. Every advantage gained is priceless.
Also, students are highly encouraged to uproot and prepare to be tossed around. Employers are not in search of bookworms, they are looking for warriors who can tackle a boardroom in Seattle in the morning and be back in Chicago before the office closes. CEOs are not chosen by highest test score, they are sharpened by the raw nature of the business – they are “cut out” to be CEOs. Therefore, students must be early and well-dressed for interviews, must be more prepared than the interviewer, and must always remain unsatisfied.
Keep all of these concepts in mind, remembering, above all, that graduate school is not for everyone. Then again, at one time, neither was college.
Mohammed Ibrahim is a senior majoring in pre-med biology.