Students' Struggles in Grad School May Not Be Worth the Cost

The editorial ``Anyone for Grad School?,'' Dec. 7, misunderstands some of the reasons why a majority of students pursuing graduate degrees are foreign. In the engineering field, the problem is too few job opportunities for people with advanced degrees. Most industries are simply not interested in the kind of long-range research that requires the talents of a master's degree or PhD. Graduate students have been priced out of the market for most non-defense industries, which pay premium salaries to graduates with bachelor's degrees. Why should young people opt for four to five more years of grinding study and instant poverty when dangling before their eyes are salaries equivalent to those their professors receive after years of experience?

Until we realize that a great future requires long-term efforts and sacrifices and businesses become less concerned with the bottom line, the US will continue to muddle along toward mediocrity.

George McPherson, Jr., Rolla, Mo., Prof. of Electrical Engineering, University of Missouri - Rolla

The author believes that more Americans should attend graduate school and parents should instill a love of learning in their children. But this doesn't take into account a culture that doesn't value learning. I am from an inner city and have gone on for my doctorate. Even though my family and friends love me, holidays are filled with stares and insults. A few family members understand and encourage me, and this has been my salvation. But I wonder how many bright young people can't bear the separation and insults and therefore never go on to graduate school. Our culture should foster a love of learning. Mary Murray, Geneva, N.Y., Hobart and William Smith Colleges

A major obstacle to Americans' pursuit of higher education is money. Despite opportunities to obtain loans, this ``solution'' only enables students to graduate in debt without the security of a job. To compare the US with other industrialized nations is to ignore the fact that in these other countries the cost of higher education is paid for by the government. American students can look forward to long hours of study combined with long hours of work. In our society the student often bears the brunt of the costs of his or her own education. After struggling to finally obtain a bachelor's degree, the prospect of obtaining a higher, more costly degree is, needless to say, somewhat daunting. Carol Morrison, Dover, N.H.

The editorial does not mention a lack of money as a reason why fewer Americans enter graduate school. I have family members and friends who either struggle financially in graduate school or have not been able to attend at all. One close friend is selling her house to finance her master's program. This problem will continue and could become more entrenched as the economy tightens. I hope that someday our country will prioritize education for all people. If we do not, higher education will inevitably be for the wealthy. Nancy Gilbert, Bath, Maine

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