Thursday, April 23, 2015

Keeping Things In Perspective

I think this is the first real post I've written in a while for this blog. Sorry to say, I've been having so much fun with my Barbies, that I've been doing a lot of writing for Dolli Luv, but I figure my other blog needs some love too. Also, on a completely unrelated note, "faux" is totally a word, and I know it is, yet it is not in Chrome's dictionary of words.

I've been giving a lot of thought to where I am in my life and where I want it to go. Of course, most of the people I went to college with are doing great and wonderful things, like working in FIRE (finance, investments,and real estate) fields, and... well that's pretty much it. At Penn, if you don't do one one those, then you're weird. So I'm weird. The alternative for those in non-FIRE fields is to go to graduate school.

Working at Career Services strengthened my resolve to not go to graduate school until I am sure of where I want to go in my career. While at Career Services, I saw a lot of success stories, but I also saw an a good bit more not-so-successful stories, especially with graduate students.

Now don't get me wrong: I don't think going to graduate school is a complete waste of time. However, I believe you should keep things in perspective when considering a graduate program.

It is important to know that graduate programs are the main ways that universities and colleges make money. This isn't a bad thing in itself, but it does lead to the development of programs that may be essential useless to the students, but are on a popular or trendy subject that will draw in a lot of people just to get the money. We see this a lot. People who have gotten degrees in Positive Psychology or Chemistry Teaching, but can't get jobs

This can be seen with a lot of programs that are geared towards international students. They are lured into these programs with the promises of studying and then working in the US, only to graduate and found out that it is very hard to get a job in the US as a non-native, especially since employers have to justify why they hired a non-native over a US native who applied for the same position.

Now, I understand that the advisors didn't want to upset and discourage students, but I found it very troubling that (at least to my knowledge) they never brought up this legality in any of the advising meetings. They could have at least said something like, "Because employers hire international candidates based on if they can perform better than citizens on the job, you have to present yourself as the best candidate for the job," instead of just saying, "present yourself as the best candidate" and then leaving it at that. I always felt this was completely unfair to the students that they were given the same advise as citizens, but their job search was so totally different.

Secondly, we see a lot of graduate students who can't get jobs due to their lack of work experience because they decided to go straight from undergraduate to graduate school. There are some career fields where this fine, or even required, but many jobs requires at least a few years of work experience. Take for example nursing. I lot of nurses go straight to graduate school thinking "having a masters will help me get a higher paying job". But then they can't get hired, or have to start out at an entry level position because they have no experience. Honestly, who is going to hire a nurse with a masters degree who has never actually done anything medical related, except during clinicals? That would be like a trucking company hiring drivers who have never driven outside of driving school.

Without being able to get hired with just one master's degree, some reason, "well, if I had another degree, then I would be even more attractive to employers." And this cycle keeps on until they owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, and are still out of work (this is no joke, I have seen this first hand).

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