Advice for Graduate Students in Communications

I remember the feeling of sheer panic that enveloped me a few weeks after I received my acceptance letter. In one sudden moment, I began to consider my simultaneous roles as wife, mother and employee and, although I had researched the communication masters program extensively before applying, there was an overwhelming sense of insecurity that I simply couldn’t shake.

  • Graduate school. This. Is. A. Big. Deal.
  • What if the coursework is too rigorous?
  • What if I simply can’t balance graduate school with my other responsibilities?
  • What if I have nothing in common with my classmates?

If you have asked yourself these questions, you aren’t alone. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay!

I’ll be honest and say the coursework isn’t easy. Organization, time management and good ‘ol fashioned hard work are absolutely necessary for enduring the rigor of graduate school. Overcoming the fear of asking questions is also a key to success. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions in graduate school.

Balance is possible! Sacrifices may need to be made to ensure proper alignment of priorities. For me, being a graduate school student means I quickly eliminated coffee dates with friends and I’ve had to cut back on volunteerism at church and in the community. I made these adjustments with my free time so that graduate school could fit in to the busy-ness of marriage, parenting and working outside the home. However, I have a countdown app on my iPhone to remind me that these sacrifices are temporary.

I have all kinds of things in common with classmates! Although we come from a variety of backgrounds, commonality is found in our shared journey. Each person enrolled in the masters in communication program is investing in their education to better themselves in preparation for future endeavors. This shared journey binds us in amazing ways while our unique differences present us with opportunities for immense growth.

It’s okay to be nervous. Just don’t let it consume you. Be courageous. Your future depends on it!

Learn More Tips for Graduate Students

Janelle Gergen 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
Janelle Gergen obtained a B.F.A. in Graphic Design from Minnesota State University, Mankato, in 2005. She currently works in communications, serving the Roman Catholic Diocese of Crookston as Website Administrator and Associate Editor of Our Northland Diocese newspaper. She has been married for 12 years and is the mom of three children.

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