Grad Schools That Suck

I went to college in the 90's. I don't spend a lot of time reminiscing about it. In fact, more often than not, when it comes to college I think to myself, "thank heavens I'll never have to go through that again."

To me, college was a lot of ramen, roommates and rain (I attended WOU in the soggy Willamette Valley).

With that, I give you the following reader question about HR and the $10-100k piece of paper:

I am graduating with a bachelors in May '09. I am a psychology major, business management minor. I plan on going to graduate school.

I am an office manager at a small production company, and I am launching my own business to coordinate production projects and talent, both of which may allow the option to travel in the future. A correspondence graduate program would be ideal for me. That said, this is not the industry I will stay with after finishing my graduate degree.

I have been told that my resume is "amazing" for someone my age. This semester I am also taking courses through the continuing education department to earn a Trainer Certificate for small scale HR training and development. The graduate programs I will apply to focus on organizational and HR development and management. There are many internship opportunities in my area to get into the industry if I choose to leave my current job. I just worry that my graduate degree may not be taken seriously because of school or program reputation.

I have looked into correspondence graduate programs available online, however, online universities such as Concordia and Regent seem to have mixed reviews regarding quality. At the same time, they are more recognizable than small schools, such as Tarlton State University. Does this make a difference to a recruiter? How do employers and recruiters weigh graduate schools? How do they view correspondence graduate programs? Can work experience compensate? Are there certain schools that recruiters shy away from?

While some schools have very well-earned reputations (in both directions), I am a firm believer that the Big, Fancy Schools are just as capable of providing

  • Crappy instruction,
  • Crappy instructors, and
  • Crappy graduates

as No-Name Schools.  

While some companies and recruiters source heavily from certain schools for graduates of specific programs or for niche positions, you do not generally have to worry about the "name" of your school as long as it is accredited by an agency recognized by the US Department of Education as a "reliable authority".  

What you do have to worry about is: how do you feel about completing your graduate degree online or via a correspondence course?

  
If you feel that no matter what, an off-site degree is "lesser" than an on-site degree, don't go that route. The most important opinion in the world about this is your own opinion. You are the one that has to live with this.  

A lot of "respectable" universities have full HR grad programs online - and I think there are going to be more and more in the years to come. Heck, even Penn State offers an HR grad program that is 100% online. 

In almost every job (except the obvious such as doctors, psychiatrists, etc) experience can and does substitute for a degree. That doesn't mean you shouldn't get a degree - it just means that if you find yourself in a field that is not related to your degree, your opportunities won't be as limited as they once were.  

Another point to ponder: many people do not include the name of the institution they graduated from on their resume. I don't think this is out of embarrassment, but simply because it doesn't occur to them or isn't important. I have seen more resumes with simply "Bachelor of Science, Human Resource Management" than "Bachelor of Science, PoDunk University".  

At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you value. You will be drawn to work at organizations that have values similar to your own. If you value a good education, a good name and a certain type of reputation then by all means, seek out a grad program that supports those values.

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