I originally thought about writing two separate posts, but I found it easier to combine these two into one.
Some students live in cities containing many colleges and/or universities. Some of them are technical schools, offering diplomas, certificates, or Associate degrees. Some are four-year institutions. On the other hand, some students live in small towns and cities, and have no other option but to leave that area to attend a four-year college or university for their career goals. Still, there is the underlying need to choose the right school to attend, especially from a financial standpoint.
Careers like engineering, medicine, or even business require certain programs that may be only offered at a particular institution. But many liberal arts and sciences are offered at several institutions—both local and distant. Students should take time to evaluate what career they wish to pursue and find the least expensive way to do that. If a student is awarded scholarships, then the financial aspect looks easier to manage. But in regards to student loans, students must understand that majors such as Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, English, are structurally the same at any institution. Even areas of education and health professions carry similar curricula. Students must become certified, registered, and/or licensed after graduation regardless of which college they attend.
For example, an aspiring Biology major sees that two prospective colleges have that field of study. One institution costs three times as much as the other. Why pay three times as much for practically the same subject matter and curriculum? Unless a scholarship is awarded, that student may need loans to pay for school. Even if the cheaper school required the use of student loans, the amount is still three times less that what would be needed for the other school in the example.
Another thing students should seriously evaluate is the average salary of their career choices. If I wanted to become a teacher in elementary school, and I researched the salary range of new graduates, that may give me some indication of how much student loan money would be appropriate for obtaining that particular degree. If one’s starting yearly salary is $35,000, then paying $35,000 for college is not cool, and neither is repaying that much in student loans.
My advice: look at the median salary for your career choice. Look at the history of the career salaries and how much they have changed over time. It is rare that a new graduate will make far above the average salary, so be mindful of this when you are convincing yourself that you can easily pay back student loan amounts. Rent, utilities, and other bills may take precedent over student loans as they are essential for day-to-day living. But you also want to be able to save for retirement, for emergency, and enjoy some of your money. So limit what you owe.
I hope this helped you in your academic endeavors. God Bless.
Since we were on the subject of graduate school from the previous post, another thought came to mind this week. Should your graduate degree be in a different field from your undergraduate degree? Well, in some cases, yes! It may have some similarity, but I feel like having a different avenue of advancement can create advantage. A person can "box themselves in" one career by pursuing the same exact degree in graduate school as in undergraduate studies.
I know a few teachers who decided to pursue graduate degrees, but not in the exact same area of study as their Bachelor degrees. For instance, if a student majors in Early Childhood Education, the pursuit of a Master's degree in something like Secondary Education, Educational Leadership, or Higher Administration may allow for more career options. That person wouldn't feel "boxed in" one specific career under the wide umbrella field of Education.
Some nurses decide to take their expertise to another level by attending Physician's Assistant (PA) school. The need to stay in the same field was replaced by ambition to be more, do more, mean more, and make more.
I chose to pursue my Master's in Adult Education and Community Leadership so that I can venture into an educational background, even with my undergraduate degree being in a health profession (Radiologic Sciences). Being a clinical preceptor within my field, as well as an adjunct anatomy instructor, helps to make my career well-rounded and helps with my long-term goal of being a clinical coordinator at some point. I have other goals outside of the health field altogether. The blend of both degrees helped me become scholarly published as well.
Overall, I advise that students fully consider all aspects of their potential graduate studies. There is nothing wrong with pursuing the same program if you are sure that it benefits your career goals. Having a concentration within that program may expand your range as well, while giving you expertise in a particular area. Just know that your options are limitless, and that it comes down to how well you are able to make the degree work for you. There are no guaranteed positions solely because you have a Master's or Doctorate. But also know that you are not limited by the degrees you earned either. Many people work in areas they never pursued, but that's another topic.
I hope you have enjoyed this post, and that it helps and enriches you on your path to greatness. Thank you for reading. God Bless.
Recently, I was involved in a conversation about the pursuit of a Ph.D., during which I (and others) gave advice concerning the need for building experience and not just education. We see many people pursue their Bachelor’s degree, then a Master’s, and then a Doctorate (Ph.D, Ed.D, J.D, etc). For teachers, some may pursue the Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S.) before the Doctorate. Usually, advanced degrees in Education lead to pay increases. In some cases, the pursuit of an advanced degree is a requirement. Areas of health professions like Physical Therapy, or medicine, require extra schooling and certifications. This is understandable. But in many Arts and Sciences, the need for an advanced degree is always questionable.
In making a decision to pursue an advanced degree, one must consider many of the same factors that went into the decision for undergraduate studies. Cost of attendance, location of program, job availability, job advancement, average salary post-completion, and more, should be evaluated. One advantage that many advanced degree programs have is that they favor the working individual. Classes are either online or in the evenings when most people are through working their normal, everyday shifts. I want to emphasize work for a few reasons as it pertains to graduate school studies.
While I applaud the passion and the dreams of achieving high levels of education, I also want to stress the need to build experience alongside that education. If you have any level of education, it is important to evaluate the need for the next level of education achievable. If a person has an Associate’s degree or even a certificate, has a great job with those credentials, the need to pursue a Bachelor’s degree may not exist. Careers in surgical technology, dental hygiene, and others may not require advanced degrees unless the person was expanding beyond the field itself. Areas like administration may require more schooling in some cases, but not all. Some may just require more on-the-job training.
In building a solid résumé, it is helpful to accompany your education with some type of experience that not only validates your education, but compliments it. If there exists only your number of degrees obtained and no work or life experience to back them, employers may overlook you. I know what you’re thinking: “How can I get experience if I can’t get hired?” First, understand that work experience is not the only experience to which I am referring. But let’s consider the following “experience” options:
- T. A.