Graduate Fair brings students closer to secondary degrees
Photo By: Mason Bennett
Mason Bennett, S&T Editor
The graduate school fair, held on Oct. 2 here at Behrend was an overwhelming success, featuring many local schools, as well as some from hundreds of miles away. While every local college was present, a variety of others offered unique programs, including universities such as California University of Pennsylvania, Clarion University, Iowa State University, Slippery Rock and Syracuse University to name a few. Many disciplines were adequately represented, too, ranging from social work to engineering programs.
One of the schools in attendance, Binghamton University, is a state school with locations in Binghamton, Vestal, and Johnson City, New York. This university boasts over an 80 percent graduation rate, and accept nearly half of all applicants. Binghamton University is a particularly fitting choice for Behrend as well—they are ranked nationally for their engineering graduate degree programs. Other areas of academia this school excels in includes Biological Sciences and Public Administration.
Karen Williams, the representative for the university, expressed her opinion on why she thinks it is beneficial for a student in the STEM fields to further their education with graduate school: “Obviously deepening your practice, deepening your understanding of the field and getting that exposure to research—sort of making those connections in your field, especially if you’re pursuing a PhD. Also a graduate degree might be required depending on the field.” She goes on to explain how pursuing an education open’s opportunities for these students in particular: “You can get a strong entry level job with an undergraduate’s degree, but often to move up in the field further education is required. If you wanted to teach, you’ll need your master’s degree for that as well. It sort of just depends how you want to engage in the field and if it’s needed or not. I would say in general it is good to have higher education because the higher your education the more employable you are across the board.”
Another school in attendance at the graduate fair located in New York was Canisius University. Consistently ranked among the top regional institutions in the Northeast, Canisius is the premier private university in Western New York and one of the 28 Jesuit colleges in the nation. Out of the graduate degrees this university offers, they boast great Business and Education programs. In the School of Business, they offer a plethora of specializations, such as Finance, Accounting and Marketing. Additionally, Canisius offers a multitude of Sports Administration programs.
A particularly unique master’s degree this university offers is Anthrozoology. A representative for Canisius University explained in depth exactly what the program is, as well as what makes it so unique: “This program is for students who are passionate about studying humanity’s relationships with other animal species. Throughout the program you typically explore human and nonhuman interactions in a variety of contexts. In other words, students study extraordinary relationships that exist between people and companion animals or even pets, like humans’ interactions with and attitudes toward wildlife, the roles of zoos and sanctuaries, policies and laws that permit instrumental and industrialized uses of nonhuman animals and a wide range of environmental and conservation issues.”
The representative went on to say that attending Canisius has benefits outside of the university as well: “I think the location is very desirable. The cost of living is great and the night life is great. If you want to get away and have a different experience while furthering your education this is a great place to go.”
The graduate fair included not only distant schools, but also all of the local schools relative to Behrend. One of these schools, Mercyhurst University, provides their own unique set of graduate programs and reasons to attend their university. Kseniya Kampova, the representative for Mercyhurst, explained that, while they don’t necessarily have many outstanding graduate programs, over half of their undergraduate programs offer corresponding master’s programs, so many more students have the ability to further their education at the university they already attended for 4 years rather than potentially looking for a school farther away than they are comfortable with. “Also, Mercyhurst is a smaller school. I really feel like we pride ourselves on faculty personal relationships, especially at the grad level. There are only about 400 grad students year around. You’re always going to know you’re professors, you’re never going to feel like you’re just a number. You can really engage on research and have your professors by your side to help you along, which is something I think a lot of other universities lack.” Something else Mercyhurst offers is extensive online graduate programs for students. Kampova went on to explain that there is no significant difference regarding the quality of education between online and on-campus programs: “I don’t think there is a disadvantage in pursuing an online graduate degree. Obviously some programs you aren’t able to do online, like a Physician’s Assistant is going to require hands on experience, or even things like lab work or education sort of inhibit your ability to do them online. But, our wide variety of programs come from our online portion of the education, which again allows almost anyone who wants to get that extra experience to do so.”
Students at Behrend have differing opinions on continuing their education after achieving an undergraduate’s degree. Jeylani Mohamad, a senior Premedical major at Behrend, shares his desires for continuing his education beyond a 4 year degree: “I like Mercyhurst, PCOM, and Slippery Rock. I like Mercyhurst a lot because it’s local, I have had a couple classes with them, and I know a lot of the faculty there. I feel like they are pretty credible and overall they are a good school,” he said. “I always wanted to do something medical, and it’s not really about the money. I like the Physician Assistant program a lot and that’s the main reason I wanted to keep going.” Mohamad went on to give his opinion on why pursuing a graduate degree should be desirable for anyone in any discipline: “You can go to grad school and still have like a General Arts major or whatever major you have, but grad school is like a 4 year program at college. You can still go to grad school and choose whatever you want to study to compliment your previous studies.”
On the other hand, Evan Ferguson, a junior studying Communications at Behrend, has a very different subjective perspective when it comes to graduate school. Ferguson explained that he doesn’t have very much incentive to continue his education upon graduating because of the lack of specialization in Communications and the intense competition that comes along with it. “When building your resume as a Comm major, or looking for work in general, you have to learn everything. You have to know everything associated with multimedia communication and how to use all of them decently well. Plus, there is so much competition to get specialized jobs that you can’t even properly prepare for, it’s so much easier to just get an entry level job and work my way up from there.”
The graduate school fair allowed many students to explore their options as a college student and make a proper personalized decision if they want and/or need to further their education. Upon speaking with many of the schools—far and local—most students will find that choosing whether or not to attend graduate school is a very subjective experience; that is, the reasons one Mechanical Engineering student has to pursue their master’s is going to be different than another Mechanical Engineering student.