It’s no secret — the job market isn’t as open as it used to be. So, students are often looking for any way possible to stand out as a marketable candidate when the time comes to look for a full-time job.
There’s no easy way to be a stellar candidate; you have to be willing to work hard, gain experience and showcase your talents in every way possible. One way to kill all three birds with one stone is to gain your master’s degree right out of high school by attending a university that lets you earn your undergraduate and graduate degree at the same time.
It sounds like a great deal, right? You can knock out six years of schooling in four and you end up with a higher degree than other students your age trying to compete for jobs. However, this kind of program isn’t for everyone.
Dr. Faye McIntyre, Dean of the Richards School of Business at University of West Georgia says that their dual degree program, the Southwire Sustainable Business Honors Program, “is designed for an elite group of students.” Requirements for their program in particular include a minimum of a 3.8 high school GPA, a 1350 on the SAT or a 30 on the ACT and they “look for students who demonstrate some kind of leadership potential and who would fit well with the program.”
Despite the selective admissions process, if you are able to qualify, there are many benefits to getting admitted to a program such as the one at University of West Georgia. “There’s time and money that will be saved by finishing a dual degree in four years,” explains McIntyre, “Beyond that, students are going to be much more marketable than traditional students…employers want to see not just that students learn information but that they can use it and apply it.”
In that way, in order to get the most out of your program, you should look for schools that require internships or other ways to get real-world experience before you graduate. “[Students at West Georgia] will do internships, they’ll do projects and are engaged in a number of experiences that put them face-to-face with executives from Southwire, [a company we are partnered with],” explains McIntyre, “These students are going to come out of [school] with a portfolio of experiences…that are going to be truly marketable at the end of this program.”
Is it right for you?
Blair Fox, a junior in the dual degree program at University of West Georgia, advises students, “[This program] is definitely for someone who wants to get into the workforce as soon as possible.” In addition to being anxious to start your career, Fox also describes her program as being extremely rigorous. “It’s taking 18 hours, then if you have a job on top of that, along with social activities it’s a lot to take on,” she describes. However, Fox insists that, “anybody can do it as long as they have the motivation for it.”
McIntyre adds, “The opportunities [that you can get out of a program like this] will depend on the student.” Additionally, she stresses that students should have a fairly good idea of what they want to do after graduation in order to be successful. “For this particular program, you really have to know right up front [what] you’re interested in.”
Gaining your master’s degree in four years is certainly something that is covetable but you have to be willing to work hard those four years and come into school knowing exactly what you want to do. If you qualify for both of those aspects, this kind of program might be right for you!