Published on November 22, 2016 | by Alexander Handziuk     Photography by Veronica Vekselshtein


Grad School applications are due soon, but is all the stress and costs truly worth it for students?

Thousands of students apply to graduate schools across Canada every year, and while they possess their fair share of differences, one aspect that is all-but universal among them is stress.

“On top of school, where you do a lot of assignments and a lot of work, you have to do other stuff like looking for references, and people who can help you with your application,” said Manilyn Ong, a fourth year early childhood studies student from the University of Guelph-Humber.

Ong’s goal is to be an elementary school teacher, as she loves working with children and has been working in a daycare for a couple years.

She is applying to teacher’s college at the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo and says that tuition cost is a major stress, as she estimates that it will cost her at least $20,000 to attend.

According to Statistics Canada, the average price of a masters degree is between $15,000 and $30,000. And that figure doesn’t include the cost of an undergraduate degree, which is needed to pursue higher education.

The cost of grad school is one that should be heavily weighed, according to Jamie Kunkel, the career and placement coordinator for business students at Guelph-Humber.

Kunkel meets with dozens of prospective grad school students every year, and strives to help students find out if further schooling is something that is beneficial for them. She firmly believes that there are right and wrong reasons to go to grad school.

“If you know what you want to do then grad school can help you get there,” says Kunkel. She adds that going to grad school because you’re unsure of what you want to do with your life is probably a mistake.

She also says that in her own case she wasn’t ready for graduate school when she finished her undergraduate degree, but now that she has been working for a while, she is considering it.

“I am starting to become more aware of my professional interests and next steps, and graduate school might be part of that process in terms of my long term career plan.” says Kunkel.

For Liz Gibbon, a PhD student at the University of Toronto, grad school was an obvious choice because getting a job in her chosen field of archaeology without one is almost impossible.

She also says that there were times when she questioned her choice to go through with postgrad, but that her love for archeology kept her going.

“I think every grad student goes through cycles where they think, I hate what I’m doing, why am I doing this to myself and really loving what you’re doing and loving being an academic, just doing research and doing what you love,” says Gibbon.

The ability to do something you love and get paid well for it is something that Ong hopes for, as she puts the finishing touches on her teacher’s college application.

And while the upfront cost of schooling is high, Ong sees it as an investment. One that she believes will be more than worth it when she becomes a teacher.

According to the Toronto District Board, Ong’s investment promises to pay off, as Ontario teachers make an average of $75,000 annually.

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About the Author

is a Journalism student who loves comics, Star Wars and Hamilton. He aspires to be a lot of things, but mostly a journalist. You can find him on twitter at @axehandziuk.

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