UNH seniors: Are you ready to graduate?

By Christian Young
On May 2, 2014

With graduation only two weeks away, University of New Hampshire students are all faced with the same question: "Am I ready to graduate?"

With graduation comes not only a diploma that signifies the great accomplishment of finishing four years of hard work poured into tests, papers and labs, but also the realization that some are entering the real world. For others, graduation means the beginning of graduate school in just a few short months. 

Seniors looking back at their years at UNH often wonder, "has the university prepared me for what lies ahead?" While some students can give a simple yes or no answer, others have a gray area. 

"It's yes and it's no," said senior business management major Mitchel Gaffney. "It's no because I'm going into business, and I don't see how studying the science of being a leader makes you ... a good leader. It's yes because I'm in business and can't do anything without that piece of paper."

In the fall, Gaffney will continue working with a startup technology company Imsys, where he will be involved with selling high-tech video surveillance and security systems.

Gaffney is happy to have a job lined up but does not believe the university gave him any crucial assistance to do so.

"I'll be able to find a job with the degree, but the degree doesn't make you stand out," Gaffney said.

 Other's who appeared to have utilized UNH's career services think the university played a different roll on their road to graduation.

"I had really helpful advisors," said Robert Johansen, senior computer science major. "Mine was the chairman of my major and I ... worked with him senior year of high school."

However, despite being prepared for the actual act of graduation, Johansen doesn't feel the university helped him earn the job he will be starting next fall. All three internships Johansen had while since being at UNH he networked and found on his own.

"This school isn't going to really push you, help you as much as they advertise. It's really up to you," Johansen said. 

Not every student is graduating with the plan to go straight into the work force. Some are preparing to enter another series of classes and scholarly levels in graduate school. 

"I really wanted to go straight into law school," said senior justice studies/family studies dual major Devon Ayer. "I didn't prepare myself to apply for law school on time. UNH should make more counseling mandatory for juniors; next year comes and you still don't know what you're doing. If I had better prepared myself junior year, I could've gotten into law school this year instead of having to do a graduate year."

Current statistics on graduation and employment rates are hard to come by, and when found are usually very skewed.

According to The UNH Career Center annual report, "This year, the 2012 graduates were surveyed by email to determine one year after graduation how many were employed and in what fields. 25 percent responded to our survey. 82 percent reported they were either working full-time jobs or enrolled in graduate school. Of the students working, 83 percent said their position was either directly related to their major or at least somewhat related." 

With so few participants in the survey, the data can't be used to get an accurate statistic.

Krystal Hicks is the associate director of career support and employer outreach at UNH. She said she is going to try and use the same research methods as Purdue University to compile more accurate data.

"For the first time UNH is going to have amazing data. Parents want to know. The government wants to know. We want to know," Hicks said.

Hicks' goal has been to spread awareness of the resources UNH has available for both its undergraduate and graduated students. With the Career Center only having about 330 appointments a month, many of them returning students, most of the 13,000 undergrads are not using the resources available. 

"Once a student comes in all they have to do is make the appointment, we will do the rest," Hicks said.


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