The application season for graduate schools is coming to a close, and the Smith Career Center has seen a higher than average applicant turnout.
Career Development Director Rick Smith said an average of 17 percent or less of Bradley graduates continue on to graduate school. However, approximately 19 percent of last year’s graduates went on to graduate school, and an additional 4 percent said they were still in the preparation process.
“From what I’ve seen in the Career Center, there are many more students interested in grad school,” Smith said. “I always see a little bit of an increase during economic down times, and there have been a few of these during my 20 years in the business. Students tend to look at it as a way to get through tough times.”
Smith said one concern he has is students will not think carefully about whether or not graduate school is right for them.
“Some students, to continue their careers, absolutely have to go to grad school, like to become doctors or lawyers,” Smith said. “Others may not need to go. The issue there is you may be postponing entering the work force, but at what cost? We are talking about big, big bucks here.”
Smith said he recommends students talk to the Smith Career Center, professors and employers for advice if they are unsure about attending graduate school.
“Many students see grad school as a safe harbor during turbulent economic times, and it has to be examined really closely before they make that decision,” he said.
Smith said the best time to begin the application process is junior year, for students who are sure they want to go to graduate school at that time.
“Now is the perfect time to begin researching and understanding fields to go into, learning about the application process and talking to faculty members about options,” he said. “Juniors can pace themselves over the next nine months or so. When you get this late in the year, most schools have already finished their application process and seniors will be hearing from them soon.”
Senior finance major Nick Rizzo said he would rather jump right into the work force than continue at graduate school.
“I would go for my MBA, and most MBA programs require you to have some previous experience,” he said. “Plus, it requires money. But if companies are hiring and you have a graduate degree, they’ll pay more to get you.”
Senior interactive media major Dan Pfeiffer said he also plans to go straight into the job market.
“I considered graduate school, but I chose not to go because I didn’t see the need for it with my major,” Pfeiffer said. “I’d rather work on building a portfolio and getting my work out there.”
Pfeiffer also said he has heard of students choosing graduate school to help get through rough economic times.
“Some students want to continue to be protected by the school environment,” he said.
Smith said the most important action prospective graduate students can take is to seek advice.
“I can’t stress enough that students should talk to faculty, the career center or professionals in their field of choice,” he said. “This is something you do not enter into lightly.”