Grad School: Should You Go?

students-reading-in-libraryMaybe you’ve been thinking about it since you started college. Maybe you’ll need an advanced degree to enter your field. Maybe you’re a senior, and you’re wondering what comes next.

At some point during your time at Castleton, you’ve probably considered graduate school.

A graduate degree can help you advance in a particular career or even enter a new field. In a master’s or doctoral program, you will learn from experts in your field and conduct research in your area of interest. Armed with your new credential, you will enter the job market ready to command a higher salary.

So graduate school is a great idea. Except when it isn’t.

There are two good reasons to pursue graduate school:

1.) You have a passionate desire to conduct research in a very specific area of your discipline: for example, you may want to explore a particular author’s work or the lifecycle of a species of grasshopper.

2.) You are committed to entering a profession or advancing in it.

However, students often pursue graduate school for the wrong reasons. Here are some:

1.) “I don’t know what to do next.”

2.) “My dad wants me to become a doctor, lawyer, physical therapist, or MBA.”

3.) “I’ve always done well in school, I love learning, and I really don’t know what to do next.”

4.) “The economy isn’t good. If I’m in school, I won’t have to get a job for a couple more years.”

Yes, job-hunting is scary. Yes, parental pressure can be overwhelming. Yes, having the opportunity to learn is among the greatest privileges we enjoy. But graduate school demands even more focus and commitment than an undergraduate program. It’s not enough to love history: you must have intense interest in a certain period, enough to write 20,000 or even 100,000 words about that topic.
And do you really want to spend two, four, or six years of your life and maybe go into debt to pursue something that doesn’t excite you?

If you’ve decided graduate school is right for you, support is available on campus. Your professors can offer insight about programs in your field. All of us at Academic Support and Career Services are also happy to help you with the application process. We’ll even explain how you can further your education without accumulating more debt.

If you’re worried about what comes next, schedule an appointment with Career Services. Renée Beaupre-White, Director of Career Services, will be happy to discuss your options and help you fine-tune your resume. And your choices aren’t limited to work or further education: you can explore internships or volunteer opportunities. These experiences can increase your chances of obtaining a paid position. They also provide something even more valuable: clarity about what you do want to do with your life. Who knows? After a year or two or ten, you may be ready to apply to graduate school.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

Feeling Stressed About the Future? It’s Okay!

Image result for therapy dogs college students photos

The future is inevitable. No matter how much we stress about it, it’s going to happen anyway. So what can we do to make the stress more manageable? There are many options to help ease anxiety, and it’s all about finding out what works best for you!

One of my favorite actors, Sebastian Stan, shared some wise words when it comes to anxiety. He said, “If you’re going to be anxious, just be anxious full on for five minutes. Set a timer if you have to.” People often try to dismiss their anxiety and stress, but ignoring it does not make it go away. Accept that something is making you anxious and allow yourself to experience it. Just don’t let it control you. Give yourself time to be honest with your emotions, but then move on to how you can help yourself move past them.

Whether you are a senior set to graduate in a few months or a freshman just starting your college journey, anxiety is something that we all experience. Luckily, there are some things we can do to lessen that stress.

  • Stay Organized. Invest in a planner. Make a schedule for each day or week and stick to that schedule. Keep your room tidy. Organization can seem like a difficult task for some people, but putting a bit of effort into it can really make a positive impact in your life. Creating a to-do list or a schedule can help keep your assignments in order and give you some structure. Don’t forget to schedule yourself some free time as well!
  • Take a Break. While professors won’t give you a break from assignments and coaches won’t give you a break from games, there are still ways to find time for yourself in your busy days. Get your assignments done early so nothing is left to the last minute. If you play sports, know when practices and games are so you can find time in between. It doesn’t have to be a long time: maybe grabbing a smoothie at the Coffee Cottage or catching up with a friend for a bit. Make sure you have a moment to breathe.
  • Ask for Help. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help, and there are many different resources for you on campus. The counselors at the Wellness Center are there to offer a judgement free space for you to express your feelings. Your professors and advisors can offer guidance on the steps you need to take next. The Academic Support Center offers different services to help you excel in your courses and prepare for your future. And a personal favorite, there are therapy dogs in the library every Thursday from 12:45 to 1:45 to help you relax and take your mind off things for a while.

Time may seem like it is flying by, but that just means it is more important than ever to take a step back and focus. Life is stressful, but that stress doesn’t have to be debilitating. Accept your stress and use it as motivation to overcome whatever you are facing in your life. Reach out for help because it is there for you and it can make dealing with stress so much easier. And if all else fails, go pet some puppies!

-Heather McManus

Heather McManus is a senior English major set to graduate in December of 2019. Organization and taking time for herself are important parts of balancing school, work, and everything else adulthood throws at her.

Budget like a Boss: Tips to Get You Through the Semester

Having a good time, going out with friends, and splurging on something you really want are all good and well, but they can make staying within your budget difficult.

A budget is one of the most helpful tools students can use over the course of their college career. Unfortunately, successful budgeting can be difficult. Here are some of the best tips to stay on budget and help you save money!

 

  • Know Yourself: You’ll have to know yourself to set workable goals for managing and saving money. That is, maybe you want to save $100.00 each month, but you know that by the end of the month you will spend at least $15.00 of that money on a meal with your friends. Plan to save $85.00 each month and work $15.00 into your budget to spend with friends or on something fun.
  • Wants vs. Needs: Learning to differentiate between wants and needs can be incredibly useful when you’re trying to create a successful budget. For example, a candy bar might be a want, but a new notebook for class could be a need. By writing a list of your daily, weekly, or monthly wants and needs, you will be better able to factor them into a realistic budget. Creating a wants and needs list can also help you cut back on impulse buying, which will help you save money!
  • Organize and Prioritize: Watch where your money is going and what you’re spending it on. Prioritizing your expenses can be as simple as listing them out and organizing them based on how much they cost, how important they are to your daily life, and if they need to be paid in a certain amount of time. For example, the list below shows how a student might prioritize expenses and then allocate their income accordingly:1.) Rent
    2.) Groceries
    3.) College/loan payment
    4.) Car/gas
    5.) Phone
    6.) Wifi
    7.)
    Fun/extra
  • The Right Tools: It is important to use the budgeting tools that work for you. If paper and pen will help you create a budget and stick to it, use paper and pen. If you need to use an Excel spreadsheet to organize your finances, that’s easy to do. If you’re like me and forget to write things down or keep track of them, a budgeting app, such as MINT, is a great way to go!  

 

Having a monthly budget will help you reduce your spending and track where your money is going. Best of all, you’ll be less likely to scramble for money in unexpected situations. So even though budgeting isn’t always glamorous or fun, it’s something everyone should try to incorporate into their lives.

Challenge yourself to create a budget and stick to it – even if it’s just for a month.

-Christin Martin

Christin Martin graduated from Castleton in 2018. During her time at Castleton, she served as a Senior Community Advisor and a TRIO Mentor. She has co-coordinated the Game of Life, a financial literacy game for undergraduate students.  Currently, she is an admissions counselor at Norwich University.