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How to Prepare to Begin Your Communications Graduate Program

Author: Michele Wilson, Online MS in Communication Student

So, you decided to pursue a Masters degree in Communications? You've weighed your options and found Purdue's online communication masters program to be the best fit. You see how you can use advanced marketing, crisis communications, and data analysis to boost your career. Are you ready to get started? Here are a couple tips to consider as you prepare.

Set your game plan: Planning how you will accomplish the additional demands of graduate school could make the transition smoother. Before your classes start, plan. I was told to commit 15 - 20 hours a week toward my studies.  Some classes required even more than twenty hours, but planning ahead helped me keep up with my work. Here is what I mean by planning:

  • Sunday and Monday were reading days. I also set a goal to start the discussion question draft on Monday.
  • Tuesday, I would review my draft. If there were optional reading materials, I would browse through them for quotes.
  • Wednesday was posting day. I would post my discussion and read some of my classmates work.
  • Thursday, I would work on the written assignment for the week or get a head start on the final project.
  • Friday was my makeup day.
  • Saturday and Sunday were devoted to finishing written assignments or the final project.

Each day of the week had a certain amount of time allotted to it. However you choose to organize your time, planning dedicated time to study can be very beneficial to managing the demands of graduate school.

Set high academic goals: Be determined to do your best! For some, this statement does not need to be said. Confidence exudes from them. For others, we start off confident, but motivation wanes. Set your mind to go into the program knowing you can make it to the end. Every assignment is your chance to excel. Strive for an "A" on every one. The extra effort will be well worth it.

Don't let procrastination sabotage your efforts! When at all possible, do your work early. Staying ahead of the game can prevent long late nights or panic when technical issues arise. If you have a family, they add to your chance of being pulled away from your studies. Not putting off tasks can keep your mind at ease, when a family emergency takes precedence over school work. This goes back to planning. It is inevitable that the unexpected will happen. Being ahead of, even your planned schedule, can keep you on track to reach your goal.

Go! You know you are ready. Take the necessary steps to get started. Use the resources that will be provided to you (e.g. Bursar's office). Get your books. Execute your plan. Anticipate challenges. Stay focused. Reach your goal. Make a plan that works for you. A plan that will help organize your time and prevent procrastination. And know that you can do this! When you feel your confidence fading, look back over past accomplishments, read an inspirational piece, or watch a motivational speaker. Build your confidence back up and keep moving forward. Before you know it, you will be done.

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Michele Wilson 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
Michele Wilson is an Ohio native currently living in the Indianapolis area with her husband and two sons. She currently works for Firestone Building Products (FSBP) as a Label/Specification Administrator in the Research and Development department. She is responsible for all the branding labels across the FSBP three brands, which includes over six hundred products. She also assists the engineers and scientists with the development and revising of product specifications.

In her free time, Michele enjoys spending time with her family. She is a P90X fan and is active in her local church. She also loves to read, sing and play outdoors.

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