All Posts Tagged With: "choosing a degree"
Seven tips from a master’s grad and PhD candidate
1. Pick the program that scares you most.
When deciding where to complete my master’s degree, I had to choose between two very different programs. One was a single year and seemed cutting edge and fun, with classes on quality television and popular fiction. The other, a traditional two-year master’s, was more rigorous, with course work of a highly theoretical nature. The primary factor in my decision was my relative level of fear. I chose the university with the more fun program and came to regret that decision. The experience was a good one in many ways—my supervisory team was wonderful, and I was able to continue working part time—but by making the safe choice, I didn’t set the bar high enough. Instead of leaping into new and challenging work, I ended up rehashing much of the same material I had been exposed to in my undergraduate degree. If I had it to do over, I’d take the bigger risk.
2. Write every day.
This will keep you in the right headspace, so that when it comes time to get that twenty-page term paper done, it’s not so agonizing. Whether it’s making précis of readings for class or blogging about pop culture, the habit of writing will serve you well. When drafting my thesis, I made a promise to sit down with the work every day, no matter what. If I couldn’t eke out more than a paragraph, that was okay; the point was just to commit to showing up ready to work. I devoted four or five hours daily, five days a week, to my thesis throughout the summer, and had my first draft finished before Labour Day. Writing daily didn’t make the process painless, but it did make it much less overwhelming.
See which programs are increasingly popular
The programs post-secondary students choose these days suggest they’re somewhat aware of the job market. The first three charts below use data from the Ontario University Application Centre’s January 2013 statistics, which show the number of first-choice applications to Ontario university programs from Ontario secondary school students. Degrees in fields with jobs to spare, like engineering and nursing, are increasingly popular while applicants are shying away from things like forestry, journalism and education. Still, the other charts, from a new Statistics Canada report on what post-secondary enrollments looked like nationwide in 2010-11, show that despite a shaky economy business, social sciences and humanities still accounted for half of all enrollments.
Pity the poor arts grad
The new Council of Ontario Universities’ study of the 2008 graduating class reveals big differences in what graduates were making two years after tossing their mortarboards in the air. Below are the average salaries reported by nearly 20,000 Ontario graduates in 2010, from highest paid to lowest paid. In parentheses are the employment rates two years after graduation. It’s clear that people with plain old humanities, arts and biology degrees are in lower demand and get paid less than those with more specialized degrees.