December 8, 2020
Sometimes sixteen years of school just isn’t enough. Graduate school has grown to be a common continuation of someone’s college career with employers raising the bar on job requirements. What once set you apart from competition is now becoming a basic necessity to survive in the job market. Harvard Business Review claims that the number of graduate students have tripled since the 1970s, leading to 27 percent of employers now requiring a master’s degree for positions bachelor’s or associate’s degrees used to be sufficient for.
However, high standards within the job market may start to wither because of COVID-19. Applying to highly ranked universities now comes with the option of not submitting standardized test scores, much of learning is now online and many have started to question how much a college degree is even worth anymore.
Gracie Shinske, a swimmer from Oakland University (OU), received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and is now on track to receive a master of business administration. Shinske’s end career goal is to be a collegiate swim coach and she is currently a graduate assistant of the OU swim team. “Originally, I planned to only get my bachelors and find a job at a different university or college. But the pandemic halted new hires in places I wanted to work, so the graduate assistant job was perfect, except it meant that I had to go to grad school to qualify,” Shinske said. She talks about struggles with her intense workload online and the money she is continuing to pay. She claims that if she had known what she was getting into, she wouldn’t be in the position she is today.
On top of switching over to virtual classrooms, money is another problem to consider when going to grad school. Loans pile up throughout our academic careers, but we also want to make sure we can pay them off. According to USNews, median incomes for those with master’s degrees can be roughly $15K more than those with only a bachelor’s degree.
A student who has considered this wage increase is Mitch Carr, a first year grad school student at Michigan State University (MSU). Carr received his undergraduate degree in English, with a concentration in creative writing.
“I didn’t feel as marketable to employers with just that [bachelor’s degree],” said Carr. He is now working towards a master of arts in digital rhetoric and professional writing. Carr has an easy time adjusting to the virtual learning because of previously having online summer classes and loves the flexibility in his schedule. COVID-19 did make funding packages for his program up in the air, meaning that Carr may have never gone to grad school without the funding for his position going through. He is optimistic about post-grad life and is using this time to develop strong portfolio pieces.
The job market is the scariest thing students have to face upon graduation. Grad school may be giving students an upper hand against competition, but what will these degrees be worth after switching to online school and easing up on college applications? While the future is unknown, grad school will always offer students time to prepare for the working world.
Kate Snider is a senior majoring in Advertising with a concentration in copywriting. Outside of class, Kate works at the Creative Center – a new organization started within Comm Arts to assist other creatives with their portfolios. She is continuously inspired by encounters with new people and places. Post-graduation, Kate plans on looking for work in Portland, Oregon to expand her hobbies of hiking and photography.