Overrated/Underrated: The Value of Graduate School

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Overrated/Underrated: The Value of Graduate School

[one_half]Grad School is OverratedMark Pothen

 As a hopeful future law school student, I don’t agree with the premise that individuals need to go to graduate school for an excessive amount of time in order to acquire expertise in their field. I think that individuals who want to go into a specialized field of study should absorb knowledge through work experience within that field rather than paying exorbitant tuition for schooling. According to an estimate by goodfinancialcents.com, for a law degree the cost of schooling is “$136,707 plus their undergraduate degree of $76,000 to be a final total of $212,707.” The embracing of apprenticeships, paired with two years of schooling, would alleviate the cost burden on students and elevate the caliber of a law degree. Rather than attending a law school for three years, while racking up debt along the way, individuals should have the ability to enter the job market earlier to assess their ability to perform within it. This could be applicable to other graduate programs as well, given that a recent U.S. Department of Education study found that physicians accrue nearly $246,000 in loans. The efficacy of graduate programs will not remain if universities do not recognize that the best way for students to gain expertise is by working within their field. 

[one_half]Grad School is UnderratedParth Agrawal

Gut check: who would you choose for your bypass operation, the doctor who went through four years of medical school, or one who only went through three?

The framing of the question above admittedly reduces the concept of an accelerated education to a strawman argument—perhaps the three-year doctor was particularly bright and completed his coursework early. But, it serves to remind us of the fact that at their core, our experts ought to have a complete and thorough understanding of their field. Do we really want a neurosurgeon, bridge designer, or criminal attorney to have cut corners in their education? To work effectively in a team and solve complex problems, professionals must have breadth of knowledge as well as depth. A surgeon who skipped a psychiatric rotation might miss the signs of Munchausen syndrome in a pre-op patient and find out too late that he was faking his knee pain. To offset the cost of graduate school, universities ought to contribute more of their exorbitant tuition revenues to affordable education. Graduate professionals are purveyors of knowledge and experience, and we entrust them to make decisions about our lives and our world. They ought to take the time to earn it.

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