Why Consider Graduate School?
February 5, 2019
When it comes to life after graduation, there are many exciting decisions to consider, from choosing where to put down roots, to applying for jobs and determining if graduate or professional school is right for you.
Whether you want to gain an advanced certification or skillset, increase your earning potential, or advance your career, there are plenty of reasons to apply to graduate school.
“As an adviser, I hope all students consider graduate school as an option at some point in their lives. I see the undergraduate degree as a starting point for a person’s education, rather than an end point. Since all faculty and most advisers have advanced degrees, those are great places to start asking questions: ‘Where did you get your graduate degree? What made you choose that program?’”
Debra L. Frank, PhD
Senior Assistant Dean for Operations and Assessment
College of Arts and Sciences
“Grad school is an opportunity to advance a passion, a career, or to gain skills and knowledge that you feel you are missing. Graduate programs are a natural extension of the learning you do as an undergrad, and an opportunity to dig deep into a specific set of knowledge that you love.
“Graduate admissions is about relationships and fit. You should meet admissions reps. You should meet the faculty and staff you’ll be working with. They will see you as more than an application, and you can get a feel if a particular program is the right ‘feel’ for you. Most students know fairly quickly upon meeting current faculty, staff or students whether or not a program is a good fit. And at the graduate level, fit is incredibly important.”
Assistant Dean and Executive Director of Graduate Admissions
“Through Drexel’s accelerated degree program, I’ve had the opportunity to save both time and money, and to share a learning space with classmates of varied experience levels. The communication master’s program has provided me with an unforgettable opportunity to network, and a non-judgmental space to redefine my perspective. My older classmates who have years of industry experience have challenged me by always expecting me to be able to explain my processes and my beliefs. I'm more strategic because of them.”
BA + MS Communication ’19
“I feel pretty strongly that research-based graduate education should be pursued for two reasons: 1. You have a specific career goal that requires it, and/or 2. You're motivated by your interest in a subject and by the knowledge that you generate through research.
“In my case, both are true. I can't get the job I want (a curatorship at a natural history museum) without a PhD, but even if I knew I'd never be employed in my field, I would still be working towards a PhD. In my opinion, it's one of the most important things I'll ever do. It's a tremendous privilege to be able to pursue something that you are really curious about, for its own sake, as far as it can take you. And it's even more of a privilege to be able do this work with funding from an organization like the NSF, which I'm lucky enough to have.”
PhD Student in Environmental Science
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow
“Graduate school opens the doors to a wealth of opportunities for personal and professional development, as well as leadership opportunities. It allows you to engage with a field at the highest possible level — challenging yourself and expanding the reach of the field. It also allows you to combine personal satisfaction with the satisfaction that comes with making a meaningful contribution to society."
Felice Elefant, PhD
Associate Professor and Director of the Biology Graduate Program
Graduate College Doctoral Fellowships Review Committee Member
“A humanities graduate education should provide students with mentorship, fellowship and industry insight. For an aspiring writer, for example, it can be outrageously useful to learn intensively from those who have gone before, so that she or he may go where others haven’t. Writers work in isolation, but mature in community. Pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing is a bold act of proclaiming to oneself ‘now is the time in my life to put shoulder to the wind, and forge a path towards publication.’”
Author and Assistant Teaching Professor of English
Director of Drexel’s MFA in Creative Writing program
TIPS FOR ASPIRING GRAD STUDENTS
- Talk to faculty mentors, advisers, current students and professionals.
They can offer perspective on the pros and cons of pursuing another degree, as well as insight into what to expect both in the admissions process and in grad school itself. Interview people in the field that you see yourself entering: What did their path look like? Is a degree a requirement for your dream job?
- Do your research.
Take some time to reflect on how a graduate degree could help you reach your career and educational goals — keeping in mind that the best degree for you may not be what you studied as an undergraduate. Work backward with tools such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, which allows you to filter occupations based on typical entry-level education.
- Meet with a graduate admissions representative.
Your graduate admissions representative is a resource to guide you through the admissions process, and can help you get to know a specific degree program. Find your Drexel representative based on your program of interest.
- Learn about funding opportunities.
While paying for grad school requires long-term planning and careful consideration, funding opportunities — such as fellowships, teaching assistantships, private or federal scholarships, and even employer assistance — can make a graduate education accessible. Learn more about applying for financial aid as a graduate student at Drexel.
- Consider your professional development.
No matter where you hope a graduate degree will lead you, gaining professional experience in the field is important and increasingly necessary. Look for opportunities to incorporate on-the-job experience with your degree, such as through Drexel’s Graduate Co-op.
- Understand admissions timelines.
Timelines vary depending on the school and program. Plan ahead to build in extra time for completing applications along with courses, jobs and other responsibilities. Check out Drexel’s graduate application requirements and deadlines by program.
- Ask for help!
The graduate school application process can be daunting, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Ask mentors in your field to read your applications, workshop your application essays in the Drexel Writing Center, and contact the Drexel Fellowships Office to learn about graduate fellowships.
To learn more about graduate studies at Drexel, attend the Graduate Open House on Saturday, March 16 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. You’ll have the opportunity to speak to faculty and admissions representatives, engage with current graduate students, and learn about Drexel’s 120+ graduate programs.