Many U students seek grad schools instead of jobs

Robyn Repya

For some students, life after graduation is full of uncertainty. But architecture senior Sara Goenner knows exactly what she’s going to do next.

Graduate school has been part of her plan from the beginning. Goenner said continuing school is a must in order to fulfill her dream of designing homes.

“Less than 10 percent of homes are designed by architects,” Goenner said, “I think everyone should be able to create their own space, and I’d like to help them.”

Looking back, Goenner said although she has worked hard to pull a good enough grade point average to finish with honors and get into grad school, she’s also made time for fun and travel during four years at the University.

Andrea Scott, Graduate School director of student services, said more and more students, such as Goenner, are applying for graduate school. She said, since April 13, applications increased by 13 percent from last year.

Scott said people are taking advantage of the recession by going back to school to make themselves more marketable.

She said in some professions graduate education was always promoted, but more people are applying now. Because the number of applications is increasing, Scott said, admittance is getting tougher.

Goenner didn’t have any trouble getting into the University Graduate School but said she will instead seek a change at the University of Oregon next fall.

Goenner said her hobbies played a part in her choice of graduate schools. She likes to in-line skate, paint and ride horses.

The University of Oregon’s equestrian club was another draw for Goenner.

Despite the need for change, she said, she’ll miss her University life.

Goenner said she’s had fun
living with four friends in a house in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood this year.

“It’s interesting because there’s five of us and one bathroom. We try to coordinate our shower schedules,” she said.

Graduating with honors, she said college wasn’t all fun – it demanded a lot of hard work.

“I’m a good student, but I try hard,” she said. “I definitely had to study and work for my GPA.”

Goenner said she’s been excited to walk in the graduation ceremony since she was a sophomore, when she joined the commencement committee.

“I helped plan the commencement,” she said, “I’m excited and I like the ceremony.”

The most enriching experience in her four years at the University was traveling abroad, Goenner said.

“It gave me a better perspective of a different culture,” Goenner said.

Last year, she traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, with 10 architecture students and a professor.

“We studied the Mexican city,” she said. “We got to see all sorts of ruins.”

Goenner said while working with Mexican architects, the students also got to design a courtyard building.

She said the Mayan ruins in the city of Palenque were intriguing and educational because of the structural balance of the huge stones used to construct it.

“These things are huge and the people are tiny,” she said. “I don’t know how they managed to build them.”

Al Balkum, Global Campus office director, said his staff is working to integrate study abroad opportunities, like Goenner’s, into degree curriculum.

He said it’s important to merge study abroad with every major and minor specifically to ensure course credit.

Balkum said many students are hesitant to travel because they have to take more time to graduate, but with course credit, studying abroad becomes more inviting.

Balkum said the number of students traveling keeps going up.

“Five years ago, we were sending less than 700 students. This year, we’re sending 1,200 to 1,300,” he said.

Although the numbers are up, Balkum said, they’re not high enough.

He said the Global Campus office is aiming to meet the mandate from University President Mark Yudof to get half of the 2005 graduating class involved in a travel program.

“We’ve got a big job in the next three years,” he said.

Goenner said she’s going to keep traveling. Three days after walking in her commencement ceremony, she will leave on a global campus trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, to study literature.

“I’m excited, but it really has hit me,” she said of the changes in her life.

Goenner, a Brooklyn Center native and the youngest of five sisters, has never gone that far away from home.

She said her parents have always respected her independent nature and sense of adventure, although they’ll miss her frequent trips home to do laundry on the weekends.

“I don’t think they’re happy I’m moving to Oregon, but they understand,” she said.

Robyn Repya welcomes comments at [email protected]