Column: Is grad school really worth it?


Illustration by Storm Wells Photo credit: Storm Wells

Jaime Jimenez

Entering college, I did not know what I wanted, but I chose the mass communication degree program because I liked talking and I figured being able to communicate effectively would be useful in any field I wanted to pursue. After taking my first semester of intro courses, I knew that this is what I wanted. After reflecting about my freshman year I knew that I wanted to do more. After taking a leadership position within my fraternity, becoming a resident assistant, orientation leader and the technical director of the Maroon Minute, I knew I loved to stay busy. Yes, sophomore year fall semester became even more difficult because I had been deciphering another degree program. I wanted to pursue a double major in environmental science. I know what you’re thinking, I am pursuing a mass communication degree with a focus in journalism and I want to study the environment. I talked about this at the end of the fall semester with advisors where I realized that broadcast meteorology was a career that would merge those two studies.

With the start of my junior year coming to an end, I have learned that being a humanitarian is the kind of career I would like to have. To be more specific, an advocate for ending world hunger and creating awareness about environmental action is my end goal. The bridge between that goal and typing away at the Starbucks in the Danna Center as an undergrad is graduate school. I have appreciated the higher education system because something that I was taught was that education was something that cannot be taken away from a person.

During this past summer, I would stay up late at night looking at grad school programs because I thought it was fun. That’s when I knew that grad school was a serious option for me. If I really want to make a global impact, getting educated is the fastest way to follow that plan. I have thought about pursuing atmospheric sciences as a degree program and be able to understand how climate change, UV intensity and extreme weather patterns will make an impact on creating sustainable crop yields for the world and lower developed and medium developed countries.



1) However, unlike undergrad, grad schools are more selective on financial aid awards. They are based on exam scores, work experience, GPA and more tangible and objective criteria than undergraduate programs. As a person who is involved in many different parts of Loyola, some of those will not carry much weight in being considered for grad school. In an article that I read a while back, the discussion of the over valuing of a graduate degree was mentioned. Possessing a graduate degree with $100,000 in accrued debt does not make up for getting a job right after college. With more discussion from advisors, graduate programs in the STEM fields take in individuals in specific labs. This could also be a con of going straight to grad school, too many applicants in one certain program.

2) While many of my peers will be well into their career I will still be staying working on papers and studying for exams. Some advice that I received from seniors considering grad school now was to take “time on” instead of taking “time off”. Getting a job, an internship, or volunteering at city organization can be ways to continue to decide what makes you happy.



1) Building a platform to help people is my main goal. I think continuing my education is the easiest way to fulfill that goal. Education is something that cannot be taken away from a person. It is a title that is given for life. With the investment in higher education comes a higher minimum wage. Other articles that I have seen floating around that show that gaining a graduate degree can provide up to 15,000 higher pay per year. Although I am not becoming a humanitarian for the money, being financially stable is a luxury that would benefit myself and family. Also, obtaining a post grad degree would allow me to become a professor in residence. I would love to give back to an institution like Loyola and educate students who were in my shoes years ago.

2) In STEM, graduate schools offer more selective degree programs. For example, I am interested in atmospheric sciences but Loyola doesn’t offer that degree. Because of that, I am studying environmental science which is the next best thing. If I do get into graduate school, I will be able to study the specific program I want to.