Career Corner: On graduate school guidance

The Office of Career Development seeks to demystify perceptions of education beyond undergraduate college and provide straight-forward verity to help guide students in making informed decisions for their futures.

“Students should be wary not to just believe what they hear out and about. They should come in and discuss it with us,” director of career development Stacey Wiley said. “The most helpful thing is the individual counseling that our staff can provide because every student situation is different.” She noted that two students who come in on the same day interested in the same graduate degree could have completely different financial needs, geographical desires and other determining factors.

The transition from undergraduate education to graduate studies is a step that many students feel societal pressure to make; regardless of their major, financial status and occupational goals. While for many disciplines an advanced degree can prove instrumental or even essential in attaining one’s desired profession, it’s a common myth that graduate school is advised for all students.

Wiley stressed that students should inquire as to whether attending graduate school is the right choice for them, because for many, it is not needed or does not make sense. After determining the necessity of continuing their education, students can converse with career counselors about their options.

“If you do need a grad degree, our office will help students look into the details,” Wiley said. “What is the name of it? Where can you get it? What is it going to cost you? Where do you want to be geographically? These are all considerations we bring awareness to.”

Sometimes, a student may choose to take one or more gap years to gain actual experience in their field or make money before diving into graduate education. The Office of Career Development sometimes recommends this as a wise decision. It has observed that many graduate school admissions boards highly value applicants who have already gained real-world experience in the area they wish to pursue further academically.

A common dilemma students find themselves in is conflict between their personal aspirations and the demands of their parents or guardians. Wiley emphasized that these disagreements can often be resolved by simple research under the guidance of a career counselor, who can provide more extensive knowledge.

“The working world today is totally different than it was when students’ parents were getting out of school,” Wiley said. “It’s critical for students to have a conversation about the modern-day reality of what they can do with their degree.”

Once a student has decided that he or she wishes to move on to graduate studies, the office offers more services. It has information regarding the various testing that is required for a variety of graduate programs. This topic is also covered in some of the Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development workshops that the Office of Career Development organizes. Other helpful tools students can take advantage of in relation to graduate school are the office’s in-house library and online resources.

Wiley suggested that students begin considering possible post-graduation paths as early in their undergraduate years as possible. This will help them set themselves up for success—however they may define success for their chosen path.

“The primary resource that I hope students take advantage of is the counseling staff here,” Wiley said. “It’s good to get all different perspectives, but especially from counselors who specialize in this particular area of guidance.”