Grad students wield competitive edge

A+graduating+UTEP+student+holds+a+diploma+folder+given+to+students+when+they+receive+their+Masters+degree.

Alberto Silva Fernandez

A graduating UTEP student holds a diploma folder given to students when they receive their Master’s degree.

Julia Lucero, Contributor

Graduation is creeping up for students and while some may go right into their careers others may consider graduate school as an option.  

UTEP Political Science Graduate Studies Director and Advisor Rebecca Reid said graduate school is a terrific option for most students.  

In previous times, most career advice included going to college for a BA in order to make one competitive in the job market,” Reid said. “Today, most everyone has a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, so that degree is no longer sufficient to be competitive in the job market —especially where the modern job market is extremely competitive and globalized.” 

UTEP offers graduate programs in business, education, health sciences, engineering, liberal arts, nursing, and science. 

According to the 2021-2022 UTEP graduate catalog, each school has a wide range of fields of study with 157 degree programs. 

Reid said graduate school teaches more in-depth, substantive courses that require higher levels of critical analysis, writing, and researching. 

Reid said students do not need to have majored/minored in the discipline to apply to graduate school, and students should select graduate programs by the people you want to learn from and work with.  

Reid also advises students to plan ahead and look at the admissions criteria or requirements for each program, including the deadlines.  

GPA and GRE scores aren’t the only criteria considered on applications; a good personal statement is also sought out. Students should also talk to graduate students in or from that program so they can gain insights from other or previous students, Reid said. 

For Cheyanne Lozano, a graduate student in creative writing, UTEP presents a prime environment of diversity and inclusion that facilitates greater creative output and makes their programs stand out. 

“Post-bachelor degrees are more and more necessary to get a good career moving forward,” Lozano said. “When I was looking into graduate school programs in creative writing, UTEP was always on my radar because of the multicultural aspect. We have the great ability to house a diverse group of students that bring with them their own ways of thinking and processes… that really helps to create a healthy learning environment. 

Lozano appreciates the level of control and independence that graduate programs at UTEP offer, stating that despite the difficulty of the work, every step directly contributes to a student’s ability to progress towards their career in the company of like-minded and helpful peers. 

“I’d say the most common question is ‘is it hard?’ to which I reply: Yes, but different,” said Lozano. “Graduate school is rigorous, but the great thing about it is that it is focused on what you want… in grad school all the classes you take lead directly to what your goals are for the future.” 

College of Education Department Chair Beverley Calvo says some challenges students may face in graduate school is the expectation of students to work independently, not meeting as often in classes, outside learning, more reading, research and practical applications of the material. 

“What I would recommend is that if you have any ideas of things you might be interested in, I would contact faculty who are teaching those courses,” said Calvo. ”Just reach out to them and get some advising.” 

The benefit of graduate school is students are able to specialize in an area in which they are mostly interested. Students are able to become an expert in that field, Calvo said. 

“You pick your classes or can even make your own,” said Lozano. “It’s nice having people around you that can understand what your struggling with because they are right there with you. These peers, your teachers, and the opportunities you will find in grad school are all connections that will help you in the future of your career.” 

Calvo said that if there is a desire to apply to graduate school then it’s something students should explore and not avoid or fear thinking it might be too complicated. 

“I really think that the biggest thing is just get informed, do your research, go talk to faculty and find out, ‘If I went into graduate school, what would this degree offer me?’” Calvo said. 

Julia Lucero is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]