Graduate School Isn’t for Anyone but the Strong


Victoria Hungerford
Web Editor
Illustration By: Lily Lazaro

As a graduating Senior, I fully understand that moment where one contemplates: to go or not to go to graduate school? That is the question. If you had asked me two years ago whether or not I would be attending graduate school after undergraduate school, my answer would be the negative; I was going to be a film director. Oh, but how things change. After a college journey that has led me on the path of many ups and downs, majors and minors, I have found my intellectual pursuit to end at Black Studies, Feminist Studies and my calling in life—feminist video game studies.

Now you’re thinking: what is that? I’m thinking exactly the same thing. This is why I am attending graduate school. I want to continue to pursue a career of knowledge and study, deepening the shallow studies currently in the arsenal of feminist studies in relation to video games. I’m not talking about representation of female characters. I’m talking about the culture of female game players in all facets of identities, sexuality, race, class and ability. I’m talking about how they interact with personal computers playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG), console games where women negotiate their identity in a rampant sexual harassment culture, and in what unique challenges women face. This is why I chose graduate school. I obviously have a direct career path that will hopefully lead me to be a professor lecturing on video games.

However, I understand that the life of academia isn’t for everyone and graduate school probably isn’t for everyone. Yet, in this harsh economic climate is graduate school necessary to set you apart from your competitors? Yes.

Travis Clarke, a UC Santa Barbara Alumni history major has been having a difficult time finding a steady job after graduation.

“[Finding a job is] remarkably difficult for anyone without the appropriate connections or superb academic credentials. There are roughly five applicants for every job opening, so the competition is fierce,” Clarke said.

Due to the fierce competition, Clarke is considering graduate school.

“I do wish I went to graduate school. In fact, I’m seriously considering studying for the LSAT,” he said.

When I hear stories like Clarke’s, it seems that graduate school is the right path to make for people who are serious about getting into the career they want.

There is an unspoken stigma that graduate school is for people who want to continue the “college lifestyle,” and is for individuals who are not ready or willing to deal with the harsh realities of the world.

This isn’t the case. Many students who go to graduate school need the extra training because the current job market isn’t hiring just anyone anymore. In the past, a high school diploma was enough, and if you had a bachelor’s degree you were golden. Nowadays, a bachelor’s degree is almost common and employers are looking for something more, both educationally and experience-wise. As future workers, we are forced to live two lives: one in which we work hard in order to do well academically, and the second in which we work hard in unpaid or low paid internships in order to get “experience.”

What a conundrum. You’ve got to work hard to play hard.

Sharice Handa, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, cautions that graduate school isn’t for everyone, but more education is a good to the advancement of the individual.

“I do believe it is important to get the highest education possible because it gives you more options in the end and the more you know and can learn is always a good thing,” she said.

Handa chose to go to graduate school to give herself more options.

“I chose to go to grad school because I wanted a more advanced degree to be more competitive in the job market and also to experience a different education centered around research,” she said. “I think that especially in this economic climate, grad school is a great alternative to sitting at my parents’ house applying for jobs.”

But Handa cautions that students can get burnt out by going straight from undergraduate school to graduate school. She suggests taking a year off, even though it wasn’t the right decision for her.

For students who find the need to take a break, I call you weak.

Go ahead take a year off and hope to get a job flipping burgers at your local fast-food restaurant (if you’re the lucky one who isn’t considered overqualified). Or if you come from financial privilege and can find the luxury to travel and find yourself, go for it…weaklings.

Going straight to graduate school is for the strong, the proud and the few! It allows you to continue to live that double life many of us are currently living; working a low paying job to make ends meet while spending the rest of your time in academic pursuits. We do this to pay off the debt we’ve accumulated paying to get a foot in the door of the professional world.

In an economy that is based off of debt, graduate school is your best bet.