Pandemic propels classmates to pursue grad school

Dallas Anderson stands in front of Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. (Dallas Anderson)

BYU students Ashley Paget and Dallas Anderson were both frantically scrambling to find a job when the pandemic hit in March. They were supposed to be graduating in just a couple of months but the job market for their desired industries was almost non-existent within a matter of days.

Paget and Anderson, who studied experience design and management, both planned on graduating with bachelor’s degrees in April. Anderson graduated on time, but because Paget had one GE left, she chose to extend her graduation until August so she could work on campus through the summer while she figured things out.

“I was kind of in a panic,” Paget said. “No one knows what’s happening and I need a job because I’m graduating.” She started applying to a bunch of different jobs that she found on LinkedIn and Indeed, but the ones she actually wanted were telling her that they were no longer hiring for the position.

Anderson was also struggling to find a job. “I’ve been applying for a bunch of sports and entertainment industry positions and most of those, about half of them, closed,” Anderson said. “Since then, unfortunately, I’ve just been unable to find work, even in entry-level positions because there are a lot of things with sports going on right now.”

Paget eventually found herself applying for grad schools. Although she was planning on working full time for at least two or three years after graduating, talking to Anderson and others helped her realize grad school might be something to look into sooner than she had originally thought.

Paget applied for the University of Oregon’s MBA program with an emphasis in sports business. She was worried because four to five years of work experience after an undergrad was the average amount of time the program required, and she had no experience. She ended up talking to the head of admissions at the University of Oregon and told him she had no work experience. He responded saying that these are unprecedented times and as long as she had a strong resume and did well in the interview, she would be fine.

A few days later Paget heard back from the University of Oregon saying she got accepted to attend grad school this coming Fall Semester. “I just feel like things have fallen into place,” she said.

Ashley Paget reps an Oregon hat on a hike. She will be attending the University of Oregon for grad school this fall. (Ashley Paget)

Anderson had been looking at some grad schools before the pandemic happened, but said the pandemic is what really solidified his choice in attending grad school at this time. “With borders closing and schools shifting to online learning for the fall, it just gave me the mindset maybe I shoot my shot with these schools, maybe I just take a chance and see if I can get in,” Anderson said.

Another motivation for Anderson was the prospect of lower student loan rates because of the impacts of the pandemic.

Anderson also applied to the University of Oregon and got accepted there on an academic scholarship and plans to attend in the fall along with Paget. Both Paget and Anderson applied to the University of Oregon without paying the application fee and with the GMAT being waived because of the pandemic.

The University of Oregon’s football motto under coach Chip Kelly was ‘Win the Day’, a phrase that has become Anderson’s personal mantra reminding him to focus on one thing at a time instead of worrying about the things he can’t control. “With all of the uncertainty around COVID-19, the school that gave me ‘Win the Day’ has again given me guidance on what my next step will be,” Anderson said. “I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend Oregon.”

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