Amanda Locker, Majoring in Environmental Science at Purdue University
One of the scariest questions you can ask a college student is, “What are your plans after graduation?” I mean come on some of us just figured out what to major in! There are many different paths that students decide to go down after graduation. The most common paths that students take would be working full-time or heading off to graduate school.
I’ve started thinking ahead (and laying out my 5- and 10-year plans) and discovered another option students have that many do not know about: volunteering with a service program. There are so many options with service programs like the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. These programs aren’t for everyone, but there are many personal and educational benefits that volunteers get from these experiences.
I’m studying abroad next semester to get an intro to living abroad, so I’ll see how that goes and I may adjust my path from there. But right now, I am considering participating in the Master’s International program with the Peace Corps after graduation (Class of 2016!) because of my love for the environment and my passion for helping people. This program gives participants two incredible opportunities by studying for 1-2 years at a partnering college and then serving for two-years at a field project with the Peace Corps using the knowledge I just learned in my Master’s program. A field project is assigned to volunteers based upon the needs and requests of the countries that need help from Peace Corps volunteers. By the time volunteers are done completing their field project, they will have a master’s degree AND two years of international work experience!
Not only do volunteers get a degree and work experience but they also get lots of other benefits that could potentially help save some cash. In many cases, Peace Corps volunteers can qualify for reductions or cancellations on different governmental loans. The most common of these loans are the Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and the Federal Perkins Loan. My loans would qualify for deferment while I would be working overseas. Plus, there’s also the opportunity for participants to receive an education award that can be used to pay back part of their loans.
…but then again, I still have a couple more years to decide. What are your plans for after graduation? Let us know in the comments below!