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Three Biggest Differences Between Grad School and Undergrad

Grad school teaches you so much more than theories and techniques in communication. Yes, I have honed in on best practices for strategic communication campaigns depending on my client’s target audience. But, I think the most useful skill I’ve gained is the ability to push the envelope and think outside the box when coming up with strategies for communication.

Below are the top three ways Grad School is different than Undergrad:

1. Classmates Bring a Wealth of Professional Experience
In grad school classes , I’m placed with people who work in communications for so many different industries. We all talk about how our in-class topics relate to the real world, and how what we’re learning could even help improve how we communicate to our own audience. It’s a wonderful feeling to be involved and speaking with so many bright people, who challenge the way I think, and praise any great ideas.

2. Coursework is Designed to be Applied to Real World Scenarios
Just the other day, we spoke about how specific theories in communications could improve a real-life work challenge, whether it’s giving a boost to employee morale, or finding a way for a company to be more transparent to consumers in order to regain their trust after a recall. We backed up our findings with personal experiences and studies we read about from other communicators who were once in our own positions.

I’ve even printed out some of our readings from grad school to share with my own team at work — and it really brought us together to craft an amazing and successful strategy for a client.

What’s really incredible is the natural ability I gained to make the connection between what I’ve learned in the program and how to use it in the real world of work.

3. Students Are Challenged to Think Critically
Throughout my graduate coursework at Purdue I’ve been presented with so many different points of view — I’ve learned to develop new ways of thinking and studying our own audiences. In undergrad, typically there is one right answer whereas in grad school there can be multiple right answers. This allows me to create the most effective and valuable strategies for communicating on behalf of our clients.

I’ve had a real feeling of success, and that’s due to completing the online MS in Communications at Purdue.

Learn More
Eileen Perez is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

About the Author
Eileen Perez is a Miami native who lives for creativity and is a sucker for good commercials. Since earning her undergraduate degree from Florida State University in 2011, she has immersed herself in paid social media, and has developed the creative social media strategies for many accounts, ranging from indie films to former film and TV stars. Some of her favorite or proudest moments include running a live YouTube AMA for Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll and Bill Courtney. She is currently a member of the social media team at an advertising agency in Boston, where she develops paid and earned social media strategies for her clients in the automotive industry while working on completing her MS in Communications online at Purdue University. Outside of work, Eileen considers herself to be a "NASA nerd" and was awarded social media credentials to attend a SpaceX/NASA launch at Cape Canaveral in Florida, where she witnessed the Dragon Capsule/Falcon 9 launch for CRS6 in April of 2015.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.