With graduation a mere two months away, some seniors are facing a big decision: head straight into the work force, or pursue further education in graduate school. Many reports have shown that it’s harder for college students today to land jobs fresh out of college, but is this really the case?
Rather than finding out, an increasing number of students are beginning to apply for graduate school immediately after their undergraduate studies instead of having to face the job market right away. Ramapo’s grad programs have seen a significant increase, according to Associate Director of Adult and Graduate Admissions, Michael DiBartolomeo. He estimates there were roughly 40 more applicants this year, a considerable success in DiBartolomeo’s eyes.
“I don’t think the job market is bleak,” DiBartolomeo said, referring to a job report that put the unemployment rate among 22- to 25-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree at under four percent. “What it’s telling us is that we and other institutions of higher education are preparing students and giving them the technical and practical skills they need to get a job.”
The four percent figure is lower than the national average, which reports unemployment at about a nine percent average. Yet students may still struggle finding a permanent position come May simply because there are more graduates competing in the field.
“There are more college graduates every year [and] there are more students staying in college longer,” DiBartolomeo explained. “Students that are savvy and that are looking across many different areas are the ones that are going to find the jobs.”
Variety is important when searching for jobs, DiBartolomeo said. Graduate schools will elevate many degrees and may help students gain better positions later on, and for some, it may be the next natural step after earning a bachelor’s degree. DiBartolomeo said students with traditional liberal arts degrees are likely to further their education in this way.
But this is not the only option. Students with professional degrees after college, like accounting or nursing majors, “typically would gain employment right after graduation,” DiBartolomeo said. Those who choose to head into the “real world” after graduating should be open-minded and versatile in their job search. Most new graduates don’t land the exact position they might want right away; instead, it is important to get a foot in the door first.
The choice is ultimately up to the student, who must weigh many different considerations, DiBartolomeo said.
“All of these factors converge into this idea of whether a student wants to get any kind of job and start paying back their loans right away, or if they want to…further their education, which would give them a leg up among other people,” DiBartolomeo added.
Students have mixed feelings on the best path to take upon graduating.
“I think it depends on the person,” said senior Paige Nicoletti. “I have friends that have been lucky and able to afford to go straight to grad school, and I have other friends that have gone to $50,000-a-year schools and are in deep debt already-they couldn’t even imagine being able to go to graduate school without at least working part time.”
Bobby Antonicello, a recent Ramapo graduate, said that the financial aspect of the decision is one of the strongest.
“The truth of the matter is, even with student loans, there are living expenses, and unless your parents can afford to support you, it’s not an easy path,” Antonicello said. “Being a student is a full-time job, and even with working part time in grad school, it makes more sense to go to work full time while taking classes at night. That way you can at least have a salary while going to school.”
Yet for senior Gira Patel, the added expense of graduate school is worth it.
“Grad school is a priority because bachelor’s degrees are worth nothing now,” Patel said. “Either way, if you don’t have a job right after college or you’re in a job that’s not paying you enough, you’re putting yourself in a better position to get a better job placement, which in turn gives you a better [opportunity] to be able to pay off those student loans.”