‘Start the process as early as possible’ when preparing for graduate school

This is an illustration of a bulletin board displaying graduate school preparation reminders. According to Nick Fleury, director of Financial Support, it’s always good to start the process as early as possible.

Taryn Hugo, News Contributor

At Oregon State University, many undergraduate students are considering the possibility of expanding their education by going to graduate school, yet few know how to financially prepare for such an investment.

“It’s always good to start the process as early as possible, that way you can find particular program opportunities based on your field of interest,” said Director of Financial Support, Nick Fleury.

Fleury, who helps provide current and future grad students with financial details regarding all OSU graduate programs, said he believes it’s important to find a program that you are passionate about and get information about funding, such as scholarships, and how to qualify for these opportunities as soon as possible.

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“Don’t be afraid to stick out your neck and ask questions about what you need to do to prepare,” Fleury said.  

Similar to Fleury, Lindsay Loebig, who has worked as a recruitment director for the OSU graduate school since December of 2019, said the earlier students begin to prepare for grad school the better. 

“Start thinking as soon as possible about what you want to do and what education you need to get there,” Loebig said. “Start talking to your academic adviser as soon as possible.”

Because Loebig said she believes starting early in regards to grad school can prove beneficial for students financially, she recommends that students look into OSU’s graduate school program called Accelerated Master’s Platform.

“AMP or Accelerated Master’s Platform provides students with the chance to complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years instead of six,” Loebig said. 

Loebig said students should apply for the program in their junior year and would start the program during their senior year, which provides them with the opportunity to complete the first year of their graduate program while completing their last year of undergrad. 

During the course of this year, which combines undergrad and graduate-level classes, the graduate-level courses are charged as undergraduate tuition, as compared at the graduate level. AMP allows students to save a year of graduate-level tuition as well as time while receiving both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. 

“It’s a great program but is only offered for specific degrees, and it’s typically limited to study in undergrad what you want to study in grad school in order for the program to work so the courses overlap,” Fleury said.

Even though both Fleury and Loebig agree that such a program can be very beneficial for students financially, they said they want students to be aware of the rigorous nature of graduate-level courses. 

“There is a massive shift in the role you must play when you are taking graduate classes, and the course work does intensify and requires some adjustment in a student’s schedule,” Loebig said. “I would definitely recommend speaking with your advisor about such changes before deciding to go into the program.”

Fleury and Loebig are not the only ones to agree that seeking answers are significant, not only for financial clarity but guidance regarding whether one may want to apply for an accelerated course of study. 

According to Daniel Galley, former OSU undergrad and current grad student of philosophy at Washington State University, seeking advice from those who have immense knowledge of grad school, including professors, is very beneficial to understand what the experience is really like.

“I decided to go to all of my professors and ask them about grad school because they have gone through it themselves and often advise other students regarding the experience,” Galley said.

According to Galley, he was aware that graduate school was going to be more work than undergrad, and wanted to be as prepared as possible by asking the advice of as many people who had some perspective. Yet, Galley said the advice he received was not particularly what he wanted to hear. 

“I had many professors advise me to avoid going to grad school because I wanted to study philosophy,” Galley said. “I completely understand their reasoning because it is not particularly the best investment.”

Galley said the discouragement he received didn’t scathe his passions but furthered his drive to study what he loved even more.

“I had to ask myself whether I could live without doing what I loved,” Galley said. “Even though grad school is not always financially feasible, I knew it would pay off in the end, as long as I enjoyed what I did.”