Students choose graduate school beyond graduation

As the amount of homework steadily builds up and the temperatures slowly creep downward, the graduate school application season is looming for many Marquette undergraduates.

Marquette Graduate School’s deadline for a majority of its fall 2013 programs is Dec. 15, 2012, a date similar to deadlines at graduate schools across the country.

However, if you’re a senior and haven’t decided whether further education beyond a bachelor’s degree is for you – there are other options. Deferring a few years before applying to a professional or graduate school is one alternative, and statistics from Marquette’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment show that it is not uncommon for Marquette students to do this.

According to Marquette’s OIRA, 27.2 percent of those who earned a degree at Marquette as an undergraduate in 2009 were enrolled at Marquette or another institution within a year of graduation for further education. In 2010, the number dipped slightly to 26.5 percent before rising again to 28 percent in 2011. The average percentage from 2009 to 2011 of students returning to school within one year of their graduation from Marquette is 27.3 percent.

Of this 27.3 percent enrolled in one year, a little less than half, 12.8 percent, decided to pursue a higher degree at one of Marquette’s graduate or professional schools. Roughly 14.5 percent of Marquette students from the classes of 2009, 2010 and 2011 enrolled at another college or university for professional or graduate school.

Though  so many Marquette undergraduates choose to pursue further education within one year of graduation, statistics also show that a percentage return to another institution several years after graduating. By Sept. 13, 2012, an additional 14 percent of the class of 2009 decided to return to school for further education, rounding the current total of students who have enrolled for further education for the class of 2009 to 41.2 percent.

Additionally, by September 2012, the class of 2010 saw a 9.9 percent increase in students enrolled at a university or college for further education, rounding their total to 36.4 percent. The class of 2011 rose 3.2 percent, from 28 percent to 31.2 percent enrolled by September 2012.

Though these numbers show that returning to school after entering the “real world” is not an unusual practice, many of Marquette’s bachelor’s degree recipents have opted to pursue a higher degree immediately after their undergraduate education.

Kristen DeGuzman, a senior in the College of Health Sciences, is in the physical therapy program at Marquette. The program allows students to apply for the professional studies program while still in high school rather than go through an application process as a senior.

DeGuzman, who will graduate in 2014 with a doctorate, began her graduate work while she was an undergraduate at Marquette. She said many of her friends have decided to work for several years to either generate a fund for later schooling or to see where their careers will lead them. DeGuzman, however, believes going back to school after working would be a struggle for her.

The number of Marquette undergraduates enrolling in a Marquette professional or graduate school has been slowly growing in the past few years. From 2009 to 2011, the percentage of students enrolled has been steadily increasing from 11.9 percent to 13.5 percent.

Cassidy Garbutt, a graduate student at Marquette working toward a master’s degree in communications, also attended Marquette as an undergraduate and continued her education directly after she graduated.

“I think the benefit of going straight through was that I was still in ‘school mode,’” Garbutt said in an email. “It also was helpful because I attended Marquette for undergrad, so I knew the campus and some of the professors.”

However, like DeGuzman, Garbutt said she recognizes it can be beneficial to defer the application process a year or two to gain “real work experience” that can then be integrated into the graduate coursework.

According to the National Science Foundation Survey of Earned Doctorates/Doctorate Records File from 2005 to 2009, Marquette also ranked among the top eight percent of institutions to which undergraduates go to receive a Ph.D. About 230 Marquette graduates during this time received a doctorate degree.