Grad School – To Break the Bank or Not to Break the Bank?

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College student Tom LaRocca from Long Island received exciting news last month. The 21-year-old was accepted into the Disney College Program. A longtime fan of the park and the films, LaRocca was ecstatic to be a part of Disney.

“I was very excited,” LaRocca said. “It was definitely a dream come true.”

While majoring in communication studies at Farmingdale State, LaRocca learned he needed an internship in order to complete his degree requirements. The Disney College Program will count toward his internship credits.

LaRocca’s original plan was to pursue an internship on Long Island and apply to Stony Brook University upon graduating. Now, he will spend six months working in Disney. He will not return home until early January.

“I hope to go back to school,” LaRocca said. “I want to get my masters and become a teacher.”

Many students face the issue of whether graduate school is worth it or not. Some students feel it will benefit them, while others simply cannot afford it.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2015-16 academic year, 786,000 masters degrees were granted in postsecondary institutions. Over half of these master degrees were concentrated in business and health related programs. Other popular fields included engineering, public administration and social services.

Shawn Williamson, junior at Plattsburgh State, feels the decision to attend graduate school depends on the field you are in.  

“More frequently than not grad school can help,” Williamson said. “You gain more knowledge in your field. I just feel it’s not always necessary.”

Williamson is a finance major and is scheduled to graduate next year. Currently, he does not plan on continuing his education; he feels it is not necessary for his career goals.

Kelly Brennan, a senior at Plattsburgh State, is enrolled in the school’s five-year education program, for which she is incredibly grateful.

“I have to have a master’s degree to have a job,” Brennan said. “Most schools make you get an undergrad and then spend two more years with a greater price to get their masters. I get to spend less money and get my degree faster.”

Brennan does believe grad school is difficult, but in the end is beneficial and can be helpful for a lot of jobs.

LaRocca will walk at graduation in May, but will receive his diploma after his completion of the Disney College Program. LaRocca is living out his dreams, but grad school is very much a part of his dreams and the bigger picture.

“I’ve wanted to teach since I was 12,” LaRocca said. “I definitely love helping others to learn and teaching people new things.”


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