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What to consider when considering grad school

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With graduate programs experiencing a surge of popularity in recent years, many students wonder if they should continue their schooling past the undergraduate level. Master’s programs are an attractive option for those looking to take that next academic step, but it can be overwhelming to decide how to continue your education. 

Stephen Swan, who oversees recruitment for the University of Louisville’s MBA program, recommends prospective students reach out to recruiters, take virtual tours and visit Louisville’s MBA program website for more information. The website includes information on the program, a checklist to prepare for the application and the application itself. 

Before applying to an MBA program, a prospective student must be prepared, said Alyssa Perry, a first-year MBA student at U of L and a WKU alumna. 

“At the end of your junior year and into your senior year, talk to your professors and get letters of recommendation,”  she said. “Start building your resume and make sure you’re not just working in the same place every year. Get everyone you look up to academically to help you, and get involved in different things.”

Students must also be mentally prepared for graduate school, said Sara Michels, a fellow WKU alumna as well as a graduate of U of L’s MBA program, for which she is currently the graduate admissions coordinator. 

“Definitely stay motivated,” Michels said. “That drive is what’s going to push you through to pursuing a master’s degree.” 

For first-year U of L MBA student Tiffany Fitzpatrick, that motivation comes in appealing to future employers.

“A graduate degree is extremely marketable, so that doesn’t hurt,” Fitzpatrick said. “Just having ‘MBA’ behind your name lets the world know that you are capable and able to learn a lot of information and that you were able to learn it well.”

According to Swan, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that individuals with graduate degrees can earn up to $38,000 more than those without a graduate degree. While these financial benefits are a nice perk, many current and former students also said that U of L’s MBA program taught them the skills needed to build relationships with others on a deeper level — something lacking in their undergraduate curriculum. 

“I learned a lot, not just the hard skills within the business world, but a lot of soft skills,” Michels said. “We have professional development modules throughout the time within the MBA program, such as a diversity and inclusion module, a business etiquette module and a crisis management module.” 

These skills help students feel more comfortable socially within their job and program, which strengthens their team building and group learning abilities.

Perry said that going to graduate school is a big decision to make. 

“I talked to someone who said, ‘Don’t romanticize grad school,’” Perry said. “If you don’t think you want to do it, don’t. Know what you want to do and have a reason for doing it. It’s definitely something you can’t take lightly.” Fitzpatrick said prospective students shouldn’t let fear hold them back from their academic goals. 

“Everything is scary right now, but being scared isn’t a good reason to not do something,” she said. 

Swan encourages students to reach out to the admissions counselors and faculty in any graduate program they’re interested in.

“Any faculty who teaches at the graduate level, especially here at the College of Business, would be happy to talk to a prospective student. Talk to the recruiters and even talk to current or former students,” he said. “This should be a well-thought-out decision because it is a life-changing opportunity.”

Students looking to apply to the University of Louisville’s MBA program can use the promo code “Go Cards” to waive the $50 application fee. The application and more information about the MBA programs offered at U of L can be found at www.business.louisville.edu.

Michels encourages students interested in furthering their education to reach out to her at [email protected] for advice and learn from her graduate school journey. Swan is also glad to answer any questions prospective students might have via email at [email protected].