“There are several factors that should go into selecting a graduate program,” she says. “Things like a match in academic interest or career goals, flexibility, cost and accessibility of program faculty are all important factors to consider when searching for the right graduate program.”
Smart Business spoke with Hoskins about the benefits of obtaining a graduate degree when changing careers and how prospective students can select the right graduate program.
What should adults look for in a graduate program?
There are a number of things to consider. One is the size of the college and the graduate department, including the student-faculty ratio. Do smaller classes with close student-faculty interaction work best for you? It’s also important to consider the school’s admission requirements,. For example, are exams or essays necessary for admission? Adults with family and career responsibilities should also consider the program’s flexibility, including the availability of evening, weekend or online classes. Also explore scholarships, grants and loans. For example, graduate students in religious studies and one of the Mount’s programs in special education are eligible for tuition grants.
Most importantly, adults should find a program that fits their interests and career goals. Sometimes people choose an institution solely based on prestige and forget to focus on whether the program is a good match.
What are the advantages of seeking a graduate degree for career change?
One of the best advantages of a graduate degree is that it can often open the door to more expanded career opportunities, making graduates more marketable.
For some people, an advanced degree provides self-fulfillment to obtain a lifelong dream. This is especially common among people who are changing careers later in life.
Of course, an advanced degree can often provide increased financial rewards as well.
There’s also the intrinsic personal intellectual satisfaction that comes from obtaining an advanced degree. Some people simply enjoy the challenge of learning and receive tremendous gratification from obtaining a graduate degree.
What services should graduate students expect from the college of their choice?
Many schools, including the College of Mount St. Joseph, provide students with personalized services. Prospective students should expect to have direct contact with the graduate admission office as well as department chairs, program directors and faculty to obtain all of the information necessary to help them make an informed decision. This face-to-face interaction is crucial in helping prospective students understand how the program will benefit them and what they can expect from a career standpoint.
Information sessions are another important way for prospective students to have direct contact with faculty and staff. Once enrolled as a student, there are several ways colleges assist students, including providing an adviser to guide them through the graduate program from start to finish.
Students should expect to receive support and assistance from the college or university through career centers, tutoring and other services.
How can adults identify the right graduate program?
Start with researching prospective schools, which can be easily done online. Then consider visiting colleges or universities that meet your interest. A personal visit to speak with graduate admission staff, faculty or current graduate students provides a great opportunity to learn more about the institution and graduate program. Many program directors and department chairpersons are available to talk with prospective students.
How can adults best use graduate programs to work toward a new career while continuing in their current job?
It really boils down to doing some research about how the program is structured and how that structure will fit into your life. Many programs are offered on weekends, evenings or even online, allowing people to work full-time while obtaining their degree and working school into their lifestyle.
MARILYN HOSKINS, MS, is assistant director for graduate recruitment in the Graduate Admission Office at the College of Mount St. Joseph. Reach her at (513) 244-4723 or Marilyn_Hoskins@mail.msj.edu.