A Quarter in Review

Well since I ended up doing well (in my opinion) in statistics I guess I owe everyone another blog post.

I would like to reflect on my first quarter of graduate school.  This is not only for anyone who may be applying to the program, but this is something that I will share with my friends who are currently stuck in educational/career limbo right now.

First, let’s face the facts.  Everyone, is going to have to go back to get a more advanced degree if your want to advance in your career.  Some people want to get it started after earning their undergrad degrees (like myself) while other people need time to get work experience and just take a break.  For the latter, many programs (like the Fisher MBA program) strongly recommend at least 3 years of work experience before going back to get an MBA.

Of all the books that I read during fall quarter The New American Workplace was one of the best books I read.  It really did not have a great deal of strategic HR information, but it was very valuable to read as an American who desires to not be unemployed.  It is a book that I would encourage everyone to read.  The best thing I took out of the book was the fact that people are now in charge of their own employability, and one must constantly be developing their skills and education in order to be worthy enough to stay on a company’s payroll.  Many people (including myself for awhile) have seen me going to graduate school, because I would not be able to get a job any other way.  Now I realize that I am actually ahead of the game – and I am even starting to use my journalism and communication skills in HR.

Here is a funny video my friend posted on my wall about people who go to graduate school: Honest Grad School Ad

Ok, back to the real reason I am blogging.  Undergraduate vs.  Graduate

Undergraduate:

  • Journalism/Communications major; Popular Culture Studies minor
  • Normally took 15-18 credit hours; 2-3 days a week
  • Involvement:  so many clubs and organizations….had meetings anywhere from 3-5 days a week and office hours
  • Work: 20-30 hours a week
  • Academics: Reading was necessary but you could get by, papers and midterms
  • Finals Week: normally would only have 1 or 2 finals because my final would be a papers

Graduate:

  • Labor and Human Resources major (have contemplated a minor in Economics)
  • 12 credit hours
  • Involvement: involved but I went kind of crazy in undergrad so I am leaving it to 2-3 organizations tops…1 regularly occurring meeting a week
  • Work: 20-30 hours a week
  • Academics: I feel terrible any time I am not reading for class, fewer individual papers, more projects (so far)
  • Finals Week: less multiple choice; more here is the business example context and apply everything you should have learned from the quarter to this one example

Now to explain.

1. I earned a decent GPA this quarter, but it was not what I was hoping for.  I was G-chatting with an old advisor, and she said that it was okay, because it was my first quarter and I was just going through a “learning curve”.  Journalism and Business are VERY different fields of study. I like writing…well I would prefer to write a paper than do a word problem.  It always takes me awhile to start a paper but when I get started, words start flowing and it is no problem for me.  That is why I like writing this blog.   Business is a lot more analytical in a mathematical and scientific way.  Journalism is an individual field….you normally don’t read articles that are written by more than one reporter.  That one reporter is in charge of the entire story.  It may go through a series of edits from editors, but they are just doing the fact checking and making sure that the story’s “style” is correct.  Even if something is wrong, YOU are supposed to fix it.  With business, it is very team-oriented and includes a lot of group projects.  EVERYONE is responsible for success (including your grade), and one person not being on top of his/her game can mess it up for everyone.  The majority of the classes for my minor were taken in the English department, so once again a lot of solo writing.

Just to illustrate how different these fields are from one another, I will compare projects and papers.  In undergraduate, I wrote a paper examining the media ethics of Madonna’s American Life video, created my own television show (which I think the CW found out about it and which is why the show Hellcats exists), had a project articulating how I would create a PSA about the dangers of smoking crack, and wrote a paper comparing the differences between sex and drugs depicted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and True Blood.

This quarter, I drew strategy canvasses, examined high performance organizations, did a presentation on age cohorts, analyzed a businesses competitive advantage, and all kinds of things with probabilities.  Definitely different areas of the brain being used.

2.  Class.  In undergraduate, I thought having class for 2 and a half hours was horrifying, and I never took night classes (but that was because normally I had meetings in the evening).  Classes are almost 4 hours long now.  Our professors do give us substantial breaks, and for most of my classes there were guest speakers, presentations, or group work done so it wasn’t just one-topic, same-person lecturing for 4 hours straight.  I think the only thing that gets me is getting out around 9-:48pm…I am so exhausted that I just want to sleep (when I know I need to be reading).

3. Finals Week.  This isn’t anything major, but normally during Finals Week your classes are not at the same time, and lucky students would end up getting done with finals around Monday or Tuesday and would be done for the quarter (normally this is denoted on Facebook status that says: DONEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!).  However, since many people in my program do it part-time and have real people jobs they cannot change the time you take your final with the time you normally have class.  I think I had a Thursday final maybe 3-4 times in undergraduate (earliest 7:30am, latest 3:30pm).  When I had a 3:30pm final last year I was so mad, because it was the very last time you could take a final (if it were not an evening class).  Needless to say, seeing all the “DONNNNNNNEEEEEE!!!!!!!!” statuses 5 minutes before my final on Thursday made me salty.

Workwise, I am still the same level of busy as I was in undergraduate.  Instead of going off to meetings and office hours, putting on events, volunteering, and the like, my work is more reading and thinking.  Same level of activity, it is just more brain activity (which can be a little bit more tiring).  I have never done an all-nighter.  Normally I would maybe do a few days in a row where I would only get 4-5 hours asleep.  Now, I HAVE to get 6 or 7 or I am a zombie all day.

Summary:  Grad school is different (especially if you are studying something different than you did during your undergraduate days).  It requires more discipline and more brain power.  Have I wanted to throw books against the wall sometimes? Of course, but everyone does. I am glad that I don’t have to take general ed classes and that earning the degree will take only one more year after this one.  I do like the cohort and knowing the people in my classes.  I normally never made a lot of friends (if any) in my classes, but it was nice to just see different people.  However, it is also nice to actually make friends in class instead of some other random place.

Enjoy break!

-G



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