Graduate program looks to attract students

Many students at Oswego have begun to prepare for graduate school with help from the annual Graduate Week, Oct. 26 to 30. This week includes workshops on paying for school, how to pick the right program and how to choose the right school. On Wednesday, the Swetman Gym hosted a Graduate Fair, with representation from over 60 graduate schools, including Oswego’s own graduate department.

Oswego has offered graduate programs since 1948 and the programs the department offers are still increasing. Oswego’s raduate program currently includes Master degrees in art, science, business, arts in teaching, science in education, and certificates of advanced study, but Dean of Graduate Studies David King says they want to develop even more programs to attract more applicants.

"More students are thinking about graduate school because of the job market," King said, "things that required a Bachelor’s degree now require a Master’s." He added that the need for graduate level education "is growing across the country. Companies want transferable skills." Graduate school, he said, can provide students with a "portfolio of skill sets."

It is because of this that more students are choosing graduate school over entering the work force. But, "it depends on the student’s aspirations." King said. Faculty will advise individual students which graduate school, if any, is right for them. Some fields of study require work experience before attending graduate school. For example, for Master’s of Business Arts programs, most faculty members will advise that students work for two to three years before going back to school.

The decision to attend graduate school depends on "other variables," such as financing, the student’s family, and the ability for the student to relocate to another campus or state, King said.

"Students have to be sure they have the right program," said Tami Mann, a representative from SUNY Binghamton at the Oswego Graduate Fair.

They look for "small class sizes, cost and reputation," Brian Flynn, also from SUNY Binghamton, said.
"It’s not so much private versus public," Sharon Mackel from Case Western Reserve University said, but distance matters, as does price.

"They are looking for money – scholarships and they don’t mind looking at what all kinds of programs offer," she said.

Christina Britt, a Business major who attended the Graduate Fair at Oswego this week said "price would be a factor," when choosing a college, "but it’s mainly the program. You have to make sure it’s the right fit for you and has everything you need."

Despite the many challenges a student must overcome before attending a graduate school, Oswego’s Graduate Program continues to grow. They have added new certificate programs, like gerontology, and other programs to attract more students. They are trying, King said, "to put together programs to help students get good paying jobs."

The number of full-time graduate students at Oswego has remained steady over the past few years, King said, but the number of part-time students declined. This is the same for other SUNY schools, however.

Oswego is known especially for its Masters in Education program – of the two dozen graduate programs at Oswego, 70 percent of the students come here for a Master’s in Education. This may account for the dropping number of students, "because of the job market for teachers," King said.

However, many students from Oswego who are going into education are still considering Oswego for graduate school. Kevin Morgan, who represented Oswego at the Fair, sais, since Oswego is so good for undergraduate degrees in education, "why wouldn’t it be good for grad school as well?"

"It’s well known for education," added Rachel Jewell "and a lot of [how students pick a grad school] depends on how good the program is."

Tim, a childhood education major who attended the Graduate Fair, said, "if you’re going to teach in New York State, you need to get a Masters. At some point I’ll have to get one." He added that it does not matter whether he goes to a public or private school – reputation does not play a role for him in choosing a graduate school. "If they are still in business, they are probably good," he said.

Jeanie Richardson, an elementary education major, disagrees.

"I’ve talked to a lot of principals, and going to a private university for grad school looks better on a resume," she said.

In an effort to increase the number of applicants, Oswego started the Metro Center in downtown Syracuse – an Oswego State graduate program based in the city. It offers a part-time MBA program, graduate courses in liberal arts and education, and other certificate programs.

"We want to bring graduate studies to a larger population in Central New York," King said.

"The goal at this point is to optimize the full-time enrollment," said King.

The school wants to improve the selectivity for all of Oswego’s programs. They want to make the programs not only more selective, but more cost effective. It is difficult to support smaller graduate classes, because if there are only a few people in a class, the price skyrockets. The bigger the class, the easier it is to afford. This is why Oswego has "increased the number of graduate fairs we are attending by 50 percent." Oswego will be represented in fairs "not just regionally but basically across the state," King said. They are hoping to make a big impression on students looking to attend graduate school.