OPINION: Graduate school is expensive but not impossible


For many college students, graduating can be a time of indefinite change. Take me for example: I’ve gone to school for 18 years. I started school at the age of 4 and attended preschool, and I’m now 21 years old and set to graduate. If your school record is even remotely similar to mine, you might be wondering about what to do after graduation.

For some, the answer is to continue their schooling and go to graduate school, but is that the right choice?

According to the May 12, 2014 Forbes article “Should Today’s Graduates Head Straight To Grad School?” there has been a spike in the amount of college graduates that head to graduate school instead of going straight into the workforce over the last five years. After going to school for approximately 22 years, it can be difficult to know what to do next. The only way to figure life out is by living it, not hiding away in graduate school for another couple of years.

If you think graduate school is the time to find yourself, you’re looking at an expensive soul search. According to a March 2014 New America Education Policy Brief titled “The Graduate Student Debt Review: The State of Graduate Student Borrowing” by Jason Delisle, the median amount of debt for 2012 undergraduates and graduates was $57,600. That’s nearly 40 percent of the $1 trillion of loans that students nationwide have amassed. That number was a significant increase from the median amount of debt students took on in 2008, which was $43,966.

The average cost for a graduate student enrolled in one of the K-State graduate programs in the 2014-15 year was almost $23,000 dollars for a Kansas resident and about $29,000 for a non-resident. Despite the high cost, more than 460,000 students enrolled in graduate certificate, education specialist, masters or doctoral programs in 2012.

Just because graduate school is expensive doesn’t mean it should automatically be axed off of your “what now?” list. Grants, loans, scholarships, graduate assistantships and traineeships helped some of the 4,500 graduate students enrolled at K-State. Once you wrap your head around the price, it is time to take a look at the application process.

At K-State, the application process is determined by each graduate program, but all students applying need to create an account to complete an online application. Copies of all transcripts and graduate record examination scores must be submitted with the application. Applicants must also complete a statement of objectives, include a resume or curriculum vitae and submit letters of recommendation.

These facts and figures aren’t meant to change your mind about graduate school, they’re just here to help you think the decision all the way through. The ideal option would be to join the workforce for a few years, gain experience and maybe even find a company that would be willing to help you pay for graduate school. Fortune 500 companies sometimes offer some type of education assistance. It’s beneficial for them to have better educated, more-qualified employees, and it can also be a tax incentive for them as well.

According to the Forbes article, students shouldn’t fall into the trap of being over-educated and under-experienced. You will still be an entry-level employee if you have zero experience, regardless of the amount of school you’ve attended.

Going to graduate school isn’t a substitute for experience, but in the end it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or thinks. The only person that knows what is right for you, is you. You have to think about everything, from what you can afford to whether or not it’ll be worth it. Only then can you make your choice.

Courtney Burke is a senior in mass communications.