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The Campus Times

A bachelor’s degree and then some

A look inside the application process for graduate students
Ephraim “Effie” Michael, who is a current student in the business administration master’s program at Campbellsville, experienced struggles as he tried to navigate the graduate school application process as a foreign exchange student. (Photo provided)

Many people never think twice about attending graduate school after earning their undergraduate degree, but for some, it is one more step they must take to achieving their dream careers. However, it is not often that the spotlight is shone on the difficulty of the application process, and how hard it is for students to juggle applying, while also giving their all to their current studies, sports, clubs and personal lives.

Many careers require a graduate degree, such as doctors, lawyers, occupational therapists and counselors. The list goes on and on for jobs that require additional schooling. And while some jobs don’t list graduate degrees as a requirement, if you want to move up in your company, or work in specific areas, a graduate degree could be the extra step you need to take to get there. Dr. Madison Duncan, who recently graduated with a PhD in cyber technology and has also earned a master’s degree in marketing, explained that a PhD was required to teach at a higher level.

“I really enjoy teaching, that is probably my favorite part of my job,” she said. “I wanted to be able to teach at all levels, not just the undergraduate level.”

Dr. Madison Duncan, who recently graduated with a PhD in cyber technology and has also earned a master’s degree in marketing, said her biggest piece of advice is to diversify your degrees. (Photo provided)

Duncan’s biggest piece of advice is to diversify your degrees.

“Anytime I talk to a student who is applying to graduate school, I’m always going to tell them ‘Diversify, don’t duplicate’,” said Duncan.

She believes it’s better to earn degrees in different areas so that you can be a well-rounded individual and employee in the future.

“I always tell students, if you’re considering going into graduate school, whether that’s for master’s or doctoral work, it is only going to help you in the long run,” Duncan said. “You’re going to learn more, you’re going to be a better communicator and you’re going to understand things better.”

While the benefits of pursuing graduate degrees can be easily identified, there is no doubt that students still struggle to complete all the steps necessary to apply for these programs. The application process varies for each degree and each school; however, most require the application, along with resumes, professional recommendations, interviews, essays and more. Ephraim “Effie” Michael, who is a current student in the business administration master’s program here at Campbellsville, experienced these struggles firsthand as he tried to navigate the application process as a foreign exchange student.

One of the biggest struggles Michael experienced was knowing which classes were prerequisites for the program he wanted to attend and getting those to fit into his schedule. While he needed to research on his own, he also relied on his adviser to give him this information. Unfortunately, his adviser was not able to give Michael the information he needed, and he was therefore unable to attend the program he desired.

Along with not being able to gain enough information, Michael is not from the United States, and did not have the connections and relationships to people that he saw most other students have. Michael had to work extra hard to form relationships that could ultimately help him in his path to graduate school. Michael managed to complete his application and earn admittance to his master’s program, all while juggling his classes from his exercise science undergraduate degree, working as a lifeguard, being an active member in SALT, an athletic leadership team here at CU and more.

The No. 1 piece of advice offered by Michael is to go out and form connections.

“You need to have connections no matter what,” he said. “We cannot hide in our shells. It is difficult for people who are introverted to make connections, but connections are the things that I have realized get you to where you want to be.”

Michael said it’s also important to lean on others who might be able to offer you guidance.

“Just asking for help really does go a long way,” he said. “I’m sure many people in this community are happy to help students. Be very specific with the help that you need, and that will allow others to help guide you.”


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