Grad School: The New 6th Year Senior

I'm sure there are more than a handful of us recent grads out there that may have experienced this same scenario not too long ago—counting down the final days of senior year, waiting to be handed that diploma with a $40K + salary attached, and saying to yourself, "I am FINALLY done with school FOREVER!"

Then the big day finally arrives, but there’s no salary attached to that diploma, and the days start ticking by with no response from any of those potential employers you submitted your elaborate resume to. That’s when it starts to sink in—I just graduated into the worst economy since the Great Depression. "What am I going to do?"

Well I’ll tell you what I did, I submitted my grad school application, and went from celebrating (what I thought was) my last day of school ever to feeling like a fifth year senior. I had to make the grad school decision on the fly because for me it was either spend the next who knows how many years waiting tables, hoping for the economy to turn back around (and hoping I remembered the four years of knowledge I’d just spent collecting), or I could go back to school for two more years, learn more about my degree program, and put myself in an even better position once I graduated AGAIN.

I’ll admit, it was pretty tough for me to get back into that academic mindset when I started that first semester of grad school, after basically preparing myself to join the 9 to 5 and never have to go to school again. Not to mention, because of my last minute decision to go back to school, I was in the exact same degree program as my undergrad with the same professors and essentially the same student body, so I felt like everyone saw me as a 5th year senior instead of a 1st year graduate student. However, I was comforted to see a handful of familiar faces on my first day of grad school that were students from my graduating class who appeared to come to the same conclusion I had. I have a feeling that there are many more of us "5th year seniors" waiting in the wings debating whether graduate school is the best decision given these tough economic times.

It may be a tough decision at first, but in the end, a little more education is never a bad thing, so come jump on the bandwagon and join the new kind of "6th year seniors."

Kendra Ehler '09
W. P. Carey School of Business
Arizona State Young Alumni Council Member