With the recent seminars concerning Graduate Schools, Juniata students are confronted with the next potential step in their pursuit of higher education. In regards to this pursuit, Professor of English Peter Goldstein sits down to discuss the challenges, risks and rewards regarding Graduate School attendance.
Do you feel that Graduate school should be a goal aspired to by every student attending a four year college?Why or why not?
It’s hard for me to speak to the graduate school experience in anything other than English , but I assume that the graduate school experience is not that different in other fields. Graduate school should not be something that should be a goal for every student at a four-year college. Graduate school requires from the moment you enter a conviction that this is the profession that you want to be in. When you are a graduate student, you are not just a student. You are a member of that profession as well. If you have any serious doubts about it, I would say that graduate school is probably not the place for you. It’s very intense — much more intense than undergraduate..
What would you say is the biggest risk in attempting a graduate level education?Cost? Time?
Well the problem is the job market, and the job market is not very good these days. You may find yourself with an advanced degree and nowhere to use it. You’re spending a fair amount of money to get an advanced degree that you may not be able to cash in on. Many businesses, and I’m not only talking about teaching, prefer job seekers with a master’s. So to some degree, a master’s may be a reasonable investment.
For a student aspiring to attend graduate school, what are some pieces of advice as to what preparations to make? Grades? When should you start school shopping?
Your grades need always to be good. There are GRE exams as well which you need to take and study for very intensively. Not just the general exam but also subject specific exams. I would think in your junior year is when you should start seriously evaluating your decision.
Do you feel that all experiences in school have to help someone in a direct professional manner to be worthwhile?
I found it wonderful. I loved graduate school. I was going in a time when the job market was a bit better, so there wasn’t as much tension involved in, but graduate school is a tremendous learning experience. Whether it is worth spending a lot of time and getting into debt and with an uncertain end to the process merely for that fantastic learning experience, I think each person has to decide that for themselves.
How different is a graduate school environment compared to an undergraduate level environment? Campus life? Professor involvement?
I think it’s going to depend in a lot of ways on where you go and who you wind up with. You are expected at this level to be able to write papers which are potentially publishable and you are being taught at that level. I think it depends on the actual professor how much of that really intense one-on-one experience that you’re going to get. I was very lucky. I had professors who were willing to put in the time not merely to teach the graduate seminar but also to talk to the students extensively about their research projects, but I think that will vary from place to place.
-Dan Endres, ’13, Juniata online journalist