A Look At Student Life
University students reveal their plans for work, travel, graduate study and marriage
It’s currently a period of high stress as the fall semester rattles to an end and finals loom ominously closer. So what are seniors planning on doing after graduation? I set out to interview sixteen university students across the nation to pose questions regarding future plans for work, travel, graduate study and marriage. Here are some tidbits of what they had to share.
The majority of undergraduates interviewed are setting marriage and travel plans aside to pursue higher education past their baccalaureates. Students feel that obtaining a master’s degree will make them more marketable and competitive for job criteria, and will help broaden the horizons of their future career prospects.
“In my field, it is virtually impossible to find employment unless one has a graduate degree. It’s basically a requirement,” says Jackie*, an Art history major who has a deep love for academia and plans to eventually pursue her Ph.D. “My field offers so many learning and research opportunities that I simply can’t pass up. I’m considering sticking with academia for the rest of my life, and if I do decide to become a cranky old professor, a Ph.D. is kind of…a must?”
Jackie is not alone. Stacy is an Astronautical engineering undergraduate, but has no intention of stopping there. Although she agrees she could get a job with her B.S., she feels the possibilities will not be as interesting unless she completes a doctorate in the same field. She prefers to have the option of becoming a professor to teach what she enjoys.
“I plan to finish my thesis by the end of next term. Marriage is not really a concern. It’s not really something I’m thinking about right now.”
Criteria for selecting a college degree
Students entered their majors based on interest and practical reasoning. Ted enrolled in Pharmaceuticals because he enjoys the health profession without the extreme stress and long hours most doctors face, and he finds high salary right out of school appealing. Sandra chose Speech pathology because she wishes to help children, but is reluctant to accumulate the debt of medical school.
Shawn took the opposite approach. After graduating with a Sociology major, he headed directly to medical school. "I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was three years old. It’s been the one constant throughout my life. I’m a social person who enjoys meeting new people and talking to them. At the same time I enjoy science, but not to the level where I’d be happy doing only that. Medicine provides a nice balance between the two."
Although many feel confident in discovering a job in their field after graduation, unforeseen circumstances can steer them elsewhere.
Tom initially entered an educational major as a non-traditional student who was putting himself through college. But he was forced to switch his program when strict regulations disallowed him to work during his senior block. He obtained a Political science degree and received his M.P.A. at the Police Academy.
"Now I’m a Sergeant and oversee our hiring process and research grants. I guess you could say I actually use my grad degree on the job in a true sense, but all of the organizational and writing skills that I developed as an undergrad help me on a daily basis. I’m also an adjunct instructor at a junior college. So, I use my master’s there."
The impact of studying on student traveling
Although many enjoy the possibility of studying abroad, they are unwilling to sacrifice time off from studying for leisurely travel.
Jessica feels visiting Europe would be beneficial for her specialization in Renaissance history, however, her travel ambitions are put on hold while completing her degree has become more critical.
“I definitely plan on going to graduate school. There is no question in my mind,” says Danielle, a Communication science and disorders major who wishes to specialize in working with the deaf population. “I was also considering going for a dual major with music therapy. I lack musical talent to be a performing virtuoso, but I’ve seen what music can do to help people. Music is something I love and I feel it has incredible healing power. I’m also planning to pursue a Ph.D.
As for the traveling bit, I would really like the opportunity to study abroad, probably in Australia, England, or somewhere else in Europe. I know that quite a few universities in Australia offer speech pathology, so I think I could easily do a study abroad there. There are about a thousand other places I want to travel to that have nothing to do with school. So I do want to get my fair share of traveling in there. But, my education comes first.”
Becky is a Communication studies major who plans to hit it big in the realm of advertising. “I plan to get a master’s after a few years," she says. "I’ll travel when I’m rich.”
Marriage plans becoming lower priority
Marriage is also increasingly becoming a lower priority. The students interviewed were generally content with postponing marriage six to eight years longer. Those currently engaged were dedicated foremost to finishing their education.
“I selected to continue Geology studies in graduate level work not only because I love to learn and research, but I plan to teach at post-secondary level someday. Graduate school is involved in my career goal,” says Jeff, who has been engaged for a year now. “Graduate school has definitely had an impact on my ability to get married when I want to. I really don’t have the time or resources available to me to get the planning done in a reasonable time.”
"Marriage does not interest me," says Helen, a French major. "I’m not currently dating anyone, but I don’t want to get married until I’m, like, 30."
Shawn is unsure of his marriage plans while in medical school. "I need a girlfriend first, but it would not alter my education. I do know people who asked for deferments from med school because they were getting married, so it does happen."
Danielle, however, has considered the prospect of marriage while pursuing her degree and embraces the possibility. But even that comes with its own conditions. "I do plan on getting married eventually, be it when I’m in grad school or not, but it will not interfere with my education. Whoever I marry will have to understand that my education is important to me, and I’m very dedicated to it."
Students with high scholarly ambitions are prevalently facing the challenge of finding ways to delicately balance their academia with flourishing in other significant areas.
As it becomes increasingly standard for students to continue their education well into their 20′s, are bachelor degrees quickly becoming obsolete? And how could this trend ultimately affect our generation of debt-laden graduates in a competitive job market?
* Some names have been altered
Baby Steps are Key ~†~