While most folks were back home stuffing themselves over the break, I was home frantically finishing up applications for grad school.

‘A vacation from vacation’

Grad applications, prospects of admission make Thanksgiving break a chore

I NEED A VACATION FROM VACATION.

While most folks were back home stuffing themselves over the break, I was home frantically finishing up applications for grad school. Going to sleep at 5 a.m. and getting up three hours later gave me a small taste of what I imagine graduate school to be like.

But I may not get to find out.

Copy editing Ben Keller’s story about skyrocketing graduate school enrollment last night, I realized I’m going to have even less of a chance of getting into my desired schools than I thought.

You’d think a program like journalism, with its sinking employment rates and bankrupting publications, wouldn’t be packing the collegiate house. You’d be wrong.

I went to UC Berkeley, one of my top picks for grad school, for an informational session this summer. They enroll 60 students per year in their competitive journalism program. They told me that in Fall of 2007 they’d gotten a record number of applications — more than 300.

Of those students they accepted, only three were fresh from their bachelor’s degrees. The rest were returning to school after years of working in the field.

With the numbers of out-of-work journalists increasing, the number of professionals applying to grad programs was also increasing.

It seems the same thing is starting to happen in other grad programs.

I’m no alarmist, but I do wonder what will happen if grad schools accept more professionals and fewer recent graduates. Where does that put folks like me — and you — who are expected to enter the workforce with comprehensive experience but are having a more difficult time getting into programs that will provide that experience?

I’ve had several people suggest that I forget about getting into grad school and do internships instead. I spoke earlier to features editor Paige Ricks, who has also applied to UC Berkeley, about this.

We agreed that a year or so of internships — most of which are unpaid — is the hard way to gain experience. But the competitiveness of graduate school makes us wonder.

Maybe UC Berkeley will still be in my future. Maybe not.

If there’s one thing college has taught me, it’s that the easy way is rarely as easy as it looks.

Heather Billings is a senior at Fresno State majoring in mass communication and journalism with emphases in print journalism and digital media.

  • god, we have no interest. This is a university paper for goodness sake, not a chance for paid staff writers to spew their personal dealings and college intentions for next semester. How is this article worthy of print?

    That’s something an undergrad journalism professor would probably not want to tell a young writer.

    I like Ben Kweller’s music though. He’s got some smooth melodies.

  • god, we have no interest. This is a university paper for goodness sake, not a chance for paid staff writers to spew their personal dealings and college intentions for next semester. How is this article worthy of print?

    That’s something an undergrad journalism professor would probably not want to tell a young writer.

    I like Ben Kweller’s music though. He’s got some smooth melodies.

  • god, we have no interest. This is a university paper for goodness sake, not a chance for paid staff writers to spew their personal dealings and college intentions for next semester. How is this article worthy of print?

    That’s something an undergrad journalism professor would probably not want to tell a young writer.

    I like Ben Kweller’s music though. He’s got some smooth melodies.

  • Brandon Santiago (Collegian St

    I am sure there is some student out there that has faced these similar situations, and maybe by putting this out there it will garner enough attention to help change the process and make things easier for students.

  • Brandon Santiago (Collegian St

    I am sure there is some student out there that has faced these similar situations, and maybe by putting this out there it will garner enough attention to help change the process and make things easier for students.

  • Brandon Santiago (Collegian Staff)

    I am sure there is some student out there that has faced these similar situations, and maybe by putting this out there it will garner enough attention to help change the process and make things easier for students.

  • fair enough…….still—-student fees went up a few years back to support this paper.

  • fair enough…….still—-student fees went up a few years back to support this paper.

  • fair enough…….still—-student fees went up a few years back to support this paper.

  • Heather Billings

    The Collegian Staff Comment

    Of course, not all opinion articles will reverberate with all students. That’s the nature of the beast. I wrote this because I think it’s important for students who are thinking of possibly continuing their education beyond Fresno State to realize that graduate school is becoming more and more important. One way to illustrate that is through my personal experience and research. Another way is through the article Ben Keller wrote for the news section. Perhaps for you, Ben’s article is more effective at getting this point across. Or perhaps it’s just not a subject you care about. But badmouthing the entire paper because you disliked one column is a little unfair, in my opinion.

  • Heather Billings

    The Collegian Staff Comment

    Of course, not all opinion articles will reverberate with all students. That’s the nature of the beast. I wrote this because I think it’s important for students who are thinking of possibly continuing their education beyond Fresno State to realize that graduate school is becoming more and more important. One way to illustrate that is through my personal experience and research. Another way is through the article Ben Keller wrote for the news section. Perhaps for you, Ben’s article is more effective at getting this point across. Or perhaps it’s just not a subject you care about. But badmouthing the entire paper because you disliked one column is a little unfair, in my opinion.

  • Heather Billings

    The Collegian Staff Comment

    Of course, not all opinion articles will reverberate with all students. That’s the nature of the beast. I wrote this because I think it’s important for students who are thinking of possibly continuing their education beyond Fresno State to realize that graduate school is becoming more and more important. One way to illustrate that is through my personal experience and research. Another way is through the article Ben Keller wrote for the news section. Perhaps for you, Ben’s article is more effective at getting this point across. Or perhaps it’s just not a subject you care about. But badmouthing the entire paper because you disliked one column is a little unfair, in my opinion.

  • gm

    I’m curious Brandon. What do you mean by “change the process and make things easier for students?’

  • gm

    I’m curious Brandon. What do you mean by “change the process and make things easier for students?’

  • gm

    I’m curious Brandon. What do you mean by “change the process and make things easier for students?’

  • Heather Billings

    The Collegian Staff Comment

    Obviously I’m not Brandon, but I think what he means comes across better in his comment on Matt’s grad school column. It all comes down to the squeaky wheel getting the grease, I believe.

  • Heather Billings

    The Collegian Staff Comment

    Obviously I’m not Brandon, but I think what he means comes across better in his comment on Matt’s grad school column. It all comes down to the squeaky wheel getting the grease, I believe.

  • Heather Billings

    The Collegian Staff Comment

    Obviously I’m not Brandon, but I think what he means comes across better in his comment on Matt’s grad school column. It all comes down to the squeaky wheel getting the grease, I believe.

  • Junior

    I think the column is directed at students if anything. Sometimes just the knowledge of the situation motivates students to get their butts in gear. With all the competition, grad students need to take an early and active effort in pursuing their degrees, and often, personal experience is a better motivating tool than just a news report.

  • Junior

    I think the column is directed at students if anything. Sometimes just the knowledge of the situation motivates students to get their butts in gear. With all the competition, grad students need to take an early and active effort in pursuing their degrees, and often, personal experience is a better motivating tool than just a news report.

  • Junior

    I think the column is directed at students if anything. Sometimes just the knowledge of the situation motivates students to get their butts in gear. With all the competition, grad students need to take an early and active effort in pursuing their degrees, and often, personal experience is a better motivating tool than just a news report.

  • gm

    Heather,

    I read Brandon’s comments on Matt’s column but fail to see how they apply to yours. You were writing about the challenge of students like yourself competing for grad school slots with people who have professional experience in their field. You also were commenting about the difficulty of gaining the experience employers want. Matt’s challenge with our bureaucracy is not a byproduct of these larger issues. So what is being proposed here?

    I would suggest that the core problem is found in the naive belief held by students and fostered by counselors, teachers and administrators from primary schools on up, that all one has to do is earn a bachelors, get decent grades and you will be able to get the job you want making great money, or get into the grad school of your choice. Lost in translation is the reality that each of us is competing with dozens, hundreds, even thousands of others who may be better,worked harder or just better connected. Wishing something is different does not make it so, nor should it. If you ran a paper, magazine or TV station, you would want to hire the best person. In other words the people who applied for a job with you would be competing for the position. The same applies to grad school admissions.
    The failure of our schools to make students aware of this reality is a real indictment of the system. It shouldn’t take until someone is finishing school for them to discover that life is rarely easy.

  • gm

    Heather,

    I read Brandon’s comments on Matt’s column but fail to see how they apply to yours. You were writing about the challenge of students like yourself competing for grad school slots with people who have professional experience in their field. You also were commenting about the difficulty of gaining the experience employers want. Matt’s challenge with our bureaucracy is not a byproduct of these larger issues. So what is being proposed here?

    I would suggest that the core problem is found in the naive belief held by students and fostered by counselors, teachers and administrators from primary schools on up, that all one has to do is earn a bachelors, get decent grades and you will be able to get the job you want making great money, or get into the grad school of your choice. Lost in translation is the reality that each of us is competing with dozens, hundreds, even thousands of others who may be better,worked harder or just better connected. Wishing something is different does not make it so, nor should it. If you ran a paper, magazine or TV station, you would want to hire the best person. In other words the people who applied for a job with you would be competing for the position. The same applies to grad school admissions.
    The failure of our schools to make students aware of this reality is a real indictment of the system. It shouldn’t take until someone is finishing school for them to discover that life is rarely easy.

  • gm

    Heather,

    I read Brandon’s comments on Matt’s column but fail to see how they apply to yours. You were writing about the challenge of students like yourself competing for grad school slots with people who have professional experience in their field. You also were commenting about the difficulty of gaining the experience employers want. Matt’s challenge with our bureaucracy is not a byproduct of these larger issues. So what is being proposed here?

    I would suggest that the core problem is found in the naive belief held by students and fostered by counselors, teachers and administrators from primary schools on up, that all one has to do is earn a bachelors, get decent grades and you will be able to get the job you want making great money, or get into the grad school of your choice. Lost in translation is the reality that each of us is competing with dozens, hundreds, even thousands of others who may be better,worked harder or just better connected. Wishing something is different does not make it so, nor should it. If you ran a paper, magazine or TV station, you would want to hire the best person. In other words the people who applied for a job with you would be competing for the position. The same applies to grad school admissions.
    The failure of our schools to make students aware of this reality is a real indictment of the system. It shouldn’t take until someone is finishing school for them to discover that life is rarely easy.

  • Heather Billings

    The Collegian Staff Comment

    gm,

    I wasn’t trying to prove that Brandon’s comments were relevant to my article, but merely trying to clarify what he was saying.

    I’m not sure if you’re accusing me of wishing I had an automatic spot in grad school or of being naive, or if you’re making a general observation. Personally, I didn’t even realize I wanted to go to grad school until two years ago. I never assumed I would not have to compete for a spot. But in my research, I’ve found that demographics of grad school students are changing, especially for journalism, as more and more out-of-work professionals re-enter school. I’m not saying this isn’t fair to undergrads like me, but I do wonder how it will change the makeup of the workplace five or ten years down the road.

    That’s a question I don’t have an answer to.

  • Heather Billings

    The Collegian Staff Comment

    gm,

    I wasn’t trying to prove that Brandon’s comments were relevant to my article, but merely trying to clarify what he was saying.

    I’m not sure if you’re accusing me of wishing I had an automatic spot in grad school or of being naive, or if you’re making a general observation. Personally, I didn’t even realize I wanted to go to grad school until two years ago. I never assumed I would not have to compete for a spot. But in my research, I’ve found that demographics of grad school students are changing, especially for journalism, as more and more out-of-work professionals re-enter school. I’m not saying this isn’t fair to undergrads like me, but I do wonder how it will change the makeup of the workplace five or ten years down the road.

    That’s a question I don’t have an answer to.

  • Heather Billings

    The Collegian Staff Comment

    gm,

    I wasn’t trying to prove that Brandon’s comments were relevant to my article, but merely trying to clarify what he was saying.

    I’m not sure if you’re accusing me of wishing I had an automatic spot in grad school or of being naive, or if you’re making a general observation. Personally, I didn’t even realize I wanted to go to grad school until two years ago. I never assumed I would not have to compete for a spot. But in my research, I’ve found that demographics of grad school students are changing, especially for journalism, as more and more out-of-work professionals re-enter school. I’m not saying this isn’t fair to undergrads like me, but I do wonder how it will change the makeup of the workplace five or ten years down the road.

    That’s a question I don’t have an answer to.