February 5, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 70  

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Going to graduate school: gamble or guarantee?

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff

Matt Prince/Gazette
“ONE BUS PASS FOR YOU, ONE SOUL FOR ME!” The Society of Graduate Students offers many snazzy services.

It’s completely natural for students to carefully consider continuing their education in the form of graduate studies at more than one point throughout their undergraduate career.

And when the decision is finally made, it has usually been boiled down to a very straightforward question — is grad school worth it?

This question, however, is not as simple as it sounds, as it consists of many different factors: will a graduate degree improve my chances at getting a job or being increasingly successful in a career? Does this type of degree benefit me in any conclusive way? Can I afford to spend another year in school?

“There’s different kinds of grad school,” explains Martin Kreiswirth, dean of Western’s graduate studies. Kreiswirth makes two distinctions between grad schools: those directed towards professional training (master’s of business administration, occupational therapy, library sciences, etc.) and the “traditional” graduate programs in areas stemming from undergraduate studies (arts, humanities, sciences, etc.).

Studies have shown that countries with a greater amount of citizens who have pursued graduate studies are more prosperous in various ways, Kreiswirth states, noting the benefit is not simply in the economic realm.

He says studies and surveys have shown that people who pursue graduate studies are met with increased prosperity, success and overall happiness. “Statistics Canada has proven that people with masters degrees have more income initially and have an improved quality of life,” he adds.

“Ontario doesn’t have as many graduate students in master’s or doctorate programs [as other provinces],” Kreiswirth says, noting there is a push for increased graduate enrollment.

“We need more because that’s where the innovative thinking comes from,” he says. Through undergraduate degrees students gain knowledge, but graduate degrees provide sources of new knowledge.

With the retirement of many baby boomers in universities over the course of the next decade, Kreiswrith says there will be a great need for professors. “To keep up our numbers, we need lots of people [in graduate programs], and of course we actually want to grow,” he says. “We would like to have people from our own country to fill those positions.”

When considering graduate studies, one of the biggest factors of course, is discipline. Though many students may feel there may not be a specific benefit to pursuing graduate degrees, especially in the humanities, Kreiswirth feels it is a worthwhile endeavor.

In the job market, companies frequently hire students with graduate degrees in the humanities because they realize the benefits provided through such degrees, he notes. “Graduate students are trained to research, communicate in oral and written form, creative thinking and [employers] know [they] are intelligent.”

According to Western graduate and University Students’ Council VP-campus issues Adrienne Kennedy, without pursuing some sort of graduate studies, she says her kinesiology degree limits her to lab work. “Now that I’ve been doing job searches, I’ve realized that it’s much easier if you have a specialized education,” she says, adding that with her degree it is very difficult to move into a specialized field.

Dave Ford, a Western political science graduate and USC VP-education, plans on pursuing a masters degree in hopes of obtaining a more focused education. “It’s something that benefits society and the individual.”



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