Oct 21, 2008

Finding a road to somewhere beyond college

by Elisabeth Garman

 Graduation — the word elicits a range of emotions — freedom, fear, excitement and a new sense of responsibility. For many students including myself, it means that my parents will no longer be paying rent, or my bills. With that said, I do not think I am alone in my apprehension regarding the future.

There are multiple after-school options for graduating students to consider. While a career and marriage are usually major aspects of adult life, there is no need to rush the inevitable and commit to anything too soon. It is always important to consider new ideas.
Post-graduation options include attending graduate school, joining the military or the Peace Corps, backpacking through Europe and going abroad to spread the gospel. These are just a few of the available options outside of joining the work force right away.

Today, the job market is not what it was four years ago, and the thought of putting off work has come to mind. However, as anyone with school loans knows, students typically have to start paying those off six months after graduation, on top of the expectation to begin paying bills. Many graduating students assume that because they have a college education, finding a great well-paying job will happen right away.

Perhaps the perfect job will land in their laps and will pay above and beyond their needs. But for the rest of us, there are several alternatives that will enhance qualifications, give life some adventure, create memories and help pay off some of those school loans.

Graduate school at Liberty can be free if you get into the right program and will make you much more appealing to a future employer. The average worker with a master’s level degree earns $10,000 more per year than a bachelor’s graduate, according to salary.com. With that in mind, working for 50 years would add up to an additional $500,000 earned in a lifetime, which should more than pay off those extra years in school. It is also important to consider individual goals and whether or not an advanced degree would be necessary. There are numerous fields in which it would prove to be an asset.

Another viable option is the Peace Corps. According to peacecorps.gov, school loans will be deferred, Perkins loans would be eligible for cancellation and after release members are given about $6,000 to help with transition. Plus, the Peace Corps has great job placement for former volunteers. Volunteers are offered 48 vacation days during the two years of service. Additionally, they may be able to complete all or part of a master’s degree for reduced or no cost because of the partnerships the Peace Corps has with over 40 colleges and universities throughout the country. There are some negatives; however, as it is a low paying job, the living conditions may be sub-par and there is a 27-month commitment.

Then, there is the military. It offers travel, excitement, partial or full-payment of school loans, in addition to career experience and great benefits. A few negatives include the time commitment, time away from family and the possible danger. According to the 2008 edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, working in any branch of the military, even in peace time, can be very demanding and there are strict rules to abide by at all times. However, there are a wide variety of opportunities, from health services to engineering, to media and public affairs officers.

Backpacking through Europe is a third option that offers great adventure and fun; however, the money for it has to be there. Opportunities in international business, psychology and the educational field can benefit from learning to understand other cultures. Though it may seem frivolous and unnecessary, backpacking may prove useful and aid in accomplishing long term career goals.

Graduation is inevitable and brings with it apprehension, especially for those graduating this December or May. God has a plan for everyone though, so weigh all the options and talk to God about it. Think of every possibility and dream a little — it is your future.


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