With the increase in college graduates, the value of an undergraduate degree is diminishing in value in the job market.
According to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), nearly 40 percent of working class Americans holds a bachelor’s degree. This reduces the chances that an individual stands out amongst a pool of applicants competing for the same job. This has not left most college or soon-to-be graduates with a tough decision to make. Take the gamble of trying to find a job or pursuing further education with a graduate degree.
Debra Valencia-Laver, associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts, said all students should enter Cal Poly planning to go to graduate school regardless of their major or their actual plans, because it keeps doors open.
“I’m an educator, so I think getting an education is always a good thing,” she said. “Grad school is never going to hurt you. Education is never going to kill you. This is a good time to go.”
Going to graduate school is not a simple decision to make. There are many factors that each person must consider before applying. A graduate education is heavily focused on using tools learned in an undergraduate education to create their own research and bring new ideas to their field of study.
Graduate school is also going to put a large dent in your wallet. According to Peterson’s, a company focused on helping students learn about colleges, a graduate degree from a public school averages to $30,000 per year and $40,000 per year from a private school. While there is still financial aid and scholarships/assistantships available for some students, most would have to take out a loan, which could add on to their undergraduate loan.
However, there are some benefits of making the investment to get a postgraduate education.
According to U.S. Census Bureau, a graduate degree does offer a higher total lifetime pay with an average of $400,000 more than someone who just has a bachelor’s degree.
Probably the largest reason people do not want to go to graduate school is the time commitment. According the U.S. News & World Report, the average length of a master’s degree takes one and a half to two years, while a Ph.D. will extend this to around five years. Counting the undergraduate degree students could be in college for roughly seven to 10 years, which would take a lot of free time out of a young adult’s life.
According to civil engineering graduating senior Mark Cepero, graduate school is worth it.
“Graduate school is definitely worth it, but you truly have to be passionate about that subject. I didn’t want to do civil engineering at first, and was even trying to switch my major. I then ended up taking some cooler classes and now really like it. A master’s is definitely something I see myself doing after a few years of working.”
In the end, there is no correct answer as to whether or not graduate school is worth it. Some may get a lot of out of it, while others not so much. Nevertheless, it is still a delicate decision that will require much consideration.