Back to school

By By Adam Bowman and By Adam Bowman

By Adam Bowman

Along with traditional graduate and undergraduate students, many professionals return to the U to continue their education in doctoral studies.

Deborah Callister, a doctoral teaching fellow with the department of communication, said her experience of being back in school after graduating from the University of California, Davis 29 years ago is overwhelming but worthwhile.

“It felt weird,” said Russ Wood, another doctoral teaching fellow with the department of communication, who is at the U 35 years after graduating from BYU in broadcasting.

They, as well as a number of other graduate students, are having to adjust to issues like being older than the majority of other students-as well as some professors-and managing their school work with family and jobs.

One reason many professionals return to school for advanced degrees is money. However, in the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Salary Survey Spring 2006, with very few exceptions there was not a significant salary increase of master’s degree job offers compared with bachelor’s degree job offers. Most increases were fewer than $8,000.

There was a salary jump from the master’s to doctoral level, however, of more than $8,000.

Some students get an advanced degree to be competitive in a job market. Jason Wagner, a recruiter specializing in engineering and construction management jobs from Aerotek Staffing Agency, said less than 3 percent of employers are looking for anything after a bachelor’s degree.

Wagner said that if students are applying for a job with an advanced degree, it is likely applicants will be more educated than the hiring manager, and that is often an added bonus.

Callister has raised children, taught kindergarten through sixth grade and has been a board member for various non-profit organizations. But even with her work experience, Callister wanted to return to get an advanced degree to “pursue interest in human responses to conflict.”

Wood has planned to get a doctoral degree ever since he got what he felt was a “basic education in undergraduate school.”

He worked in broadcasting for more than 30 years and earned a master’s degree in 1982. Wood went back to get his doctorate degree from the U to create his own general interpersonal communication training company that would teach management teams and sales teams the skills they can use to be successful in business.

Wood and Callister, as well as other returning graduate students, have come back to school to focus on and complement their knowledge.

While they are facing different challenges from those faced by traditional students, both wish to have a deeper understanding of communication that will better suit them to whatever endeavors they choose when they leave school again.