You may not get into the graduate schools you hoped for, and you will be tempted to settle for a lower-tier school. Some students assume they can go to a less-prestigious school for the master’s degree and later transfer to a better school for the Ph.D. This is not a good idea. Good schools weed out their own master’s candidates for their Ph.D. and accept the rejected Ph.D. applicants of even better schools. It is a real rarity for a student to move up from a mediocre master’s program to a better Ph.D. program. Before you accept admission to a school you have reservations about because you have been rejected by the school you were really hoping for, take some time to consider other options:
- Study Abroad for a Year: Most European universities charge no tuition and modest fees. An exchange program is not usually needed if you are not worried about transferring every single credit. If you can come up with living expenses, this is a good way to broaden your horizons, master a foreign language, learn more about your field, and have something on next year's graduate school applications that sets you apart from the crowd.
- Delay Your Graduation from IUP and Improve Your Qualifications: Do an interesting internship in your field, take some more courses or some graduate courses, improve your QPA or GRE, revise your applications, attend conferences, do some research with the help of an IUP professor, or publish an article.
- Complete a "Posternship:" A posternship is a non-credit internship done after you graduate. This will give you more experience and usually more interesting work than if you were just looking for a job.
One of these options beats an unemployable graduate degree, and either of them is better than living in your parents' basement!