By Cassie Florian
For many students, the question of whether or not to go to graduate school right after Alma or to first gain experience in the workforce can be an extremely intimidating one.
Although this is not an easy question to answer, staff and students share their insights into what to do after Alma.
“I was having a lot of trouble deciding whether or not I wanted to attend graduate school next year,” said Bergen Jome (’18).
“I was planning on applying to fast track one year programs… [but] decided to take a gap year and want it to be as productive as possible.”
The reason she decided to take a year off, Jome said, was because she found herself to be more interested in looking at apartment flats and places to visit than grad school itself.
“Make [your gap year] productive,” said Jome, “but give yourself some time to relax and reflect on all that you’ve done. Grad school will always be there and more often than not, they would like to see that you’ve gone out and done something with your major or general area of interest.”
“I would recommend taking a year off—at least the summer—of just not going to school,” said Steven Vest, associate professor and head of reference and instruction services.
Vest said he would suggest taking a year off because he, who had gone from a very intensive undergraduate program to an even more difficult graduate program, found the whole process very overwhelming.
“Take some time to plan your life a little bit and get some perspective,” said Vest.
Although taking a gap year is a good option for students who don’t want to go right into either grad school or the workforce, internships can also be a way for students to gain experience while taking a break from their schooling.
“I will be doing an internship with the West Michigan Whitecaps (baseball team),” said Monica Bussell (‘18).
“I am the multimedia intern so I will be helping make videos, graphics, player greenscreens, and also game time photography.”
“Most people think if they try to get another internship post grad they might as well get a job…but it was a position I was interested in for a long time and an opportunity opened up for me to take it.
“I went straight into graduate school,” said Daniel Wasserman, professor of history. “It really made sense for me. Financially, I believe, if you go straight into grad school and if you have loans, you can continue to defer them [also] I really wanted to go… I couldn’t wait to focus on studying.”
Wasserman also said some of his friends found they were really burned out from classes and it made sense for them to take a few years off. He believes it all depends on how students feel after their undergraduate program and what type of degree they want in the future.
“It all depends on what kind of program you’re interested in,” said Wasserman “[For] some types of degrees it’s important to have experience before grad school.
Talk to faculty, to students in programs you’re interested in, get email addresses and ask for insight. Do some soul searching and do what makes sense to you.”
“I think going to grad school is awesome, and a great idea for a lot of people,” said Dylan Zaborowski (’18).
Zaborowski, who is an education major said he is planning on doing a semester of student teaching after he graduates from Alma but also sees the benefits of graduate school for some people.
“Alma definitely does a great job preparing students for the next step in life, whether that be going to grad school or going right into the workforce!”