Representatives from other college graduate programs were invited to participate in the University of Memphis’ graduate school information fair Thursday Sept. 26 in the University Center ballroom.
UofM coordinator of publications and recruitment Mary Kyle helped organize over 30 institutions on campus to show students the benefits of pursuing a graduate degree.
“People interested in graduate degrees are often looking for something new,” Kyle said. “A lot of times, that degree is what gets you out from one career and into another.”
A variety of competitor schools, along with the UofM graduate office, were educating students about the career options once completing their undergraduate degree program.
“We want to show students what these degrees have to offer,” Kyle said. “If they can find another school with more to offer, we don’t want to prevent that.”
Christian Brother University engineering program adviser NikKi Ngozi said the bachelor’s degree requirements are different from the master’s curriculum because it focuses more on the area of study.
“In your undergrad, you learn so much, and then you have electives to narrow that,” Ngozi said. “When you get to your master’s program, you have a specific focus which drives you in your career field.
Ngozi encouraged unsure students to explore their career options.
“The great thing about our program is that we open the doors for those without technical backgrounds, so you don’t have to limit yourself,” Ngozi said.
UofM journalism professor Thomas Hrach said while advanced degrees are useful, they are not a requirement for success.
“A lot of times it helps if you’re out there in the working world a little bit and you want to move up or move out or move into teaching,” Hrach said. “We have a lot of students that want to become college teachers, and master’s degrees require that.”
Hrach said Memphis, in particular, can bring more opportunities to potential grad students.
“One thing I think we have as an advantage is that we are in a fairly large city and there’s a lot of opportunities for internships and connections that some bigger schools don’t have,” Hrach said.
University representatives boasted the benefits of entering a graduate program, but their opinions varied when it came to opportunities beyond grad school.
“For our program specifically, it has tremendously helped those with a specific discipline in engineering to up their game,” Ngozi said. “We’ve also helped people with non-technical backgrounds completely change the trajectory of their lives.”
Robyn Pennella, a graduate student at the UofM, said connections to people often overshadow the value of a degree.
“In an idealized world having more degrees would lead to more opportunities, but the truth is it’s more about who you know,” Pennella said.
In some cases, if someone meets the qualification of a degree, then it is possible that other job opportunities could become available.
Sanaa Ibrahim, a psychology major in her sophomore year, said graduate school is a definite step in her future.
“I’m looking forward to gaining information on programs,” Ibrahim said. “It’s important to talk to people to help you find your way.”