I get this question all the time, and I don’t blame those who ask it. I walked across the stage to accept my diploma less than 10 months ago, yet here I am a student once again. I’m pursuing a master’s degree in journalism, which some say won’t even really matter in the long run. Others are more optimistic about my decision to further my education, however, and I’m choosing to listen to them.
Before I graduated, I helped out with campus events and blogged for internqueen.com, a website that helps students find and apply for internships. I was flattered a few months ago when Intern Queen founder Lauren Berger asked if I would share my reasons for attending graduate school in a post on her website. I’m not yet to the other side, but I can see the light. Maybe my response to this question will be different this time next year, but for now I feel the same as I did when she first asked me.
As Berger shared in the article, these were my reasons for choosing graduate school:
1. More time. I have to be honest. One of the main reasons I decided to apply for graduate school was that I wasn’t ready to venture into the real world. I had a great resume, competitive GPA, and had made connections that probably would have been helpful in the job hunt. However, I wanted to take some time to improve those things without taking the mythical “year off.” I found a one year program that will allow me to make more connections and explore my options after school, all while earning a master’s degree.
2. The sooner the better. You know what they say. If you’re thinking you might go back to school after you graduate, it’s much easier to do it right away than it will be later. It’s not impossible. People do it all the time. However, I guarantee that the ones who have would advise you to get your second degree as soon as you can. It won’t be a difficult transition. Plus, you won’t have as many responsibilities- job, family, etc- to worry about if you tackle that next degree right after your receive your first.
3. Another resume builder. It’s true that not all jobs that you apply for will look for a master’s degree on your resume. However, having one is just another way an applicant can stand out from the hundreds of others that apply. I wanted that edge. I wanted to be more than just the average applicant.
4. Expanded knowledge of the field. Undergraduate courses prepare you for the field you hope to enter, but graduate studies are able to expand your knowledge extensively. With smaller classes, students are really able to engage with their classmates and professors. With more intense and in-depth coursework, they learn more about the ins and outs of their field. My program is giving me more tools to add to my toolkit, so to speak.
5. The freedom to study what interests me. Graduate studies often give students some freedom to choose their coursework. Yes, there will be requirements that all students must adhere to, just as there are in undergraduate programs. However, graduate students are urged to study what they find interesting and explore areas in their field that intrigue them. Their thesis is something that is entirely their own. In my community journalism class, for example, I was asked to choose a problem in the community that I cared about. Focusing on this issue will help me to study theories of mass communication and the ways that media can affect a community. It will be the topic of the website I will build in my media production course, and it is something I am passionate about, which makes the coursework more interesting.