The Art of Balancing Earning Your Communications Masters While Still Maintaining Your Social Life

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Meredith Whelchel, Student

I’ve always been very academically driven, and have always been excited about school since day one. I revel in reading a new book, enjoy completing writing assignments and love learning about all the topics under the sun (except those related to math). My mom often recounts the story of how I started preschool running off to the classroom door several paces ahead of her, only turning back to realize that I was too short to open the door. That’s what happens when you’re a short, four-year-old with an independent spirit.

I started graduate school six months after I finished my undergraduate program. I gave myself a six-month grace period to move to a new city and adjust to my new surroundings. Setting up my new apartment, finding new friends and joining community activities took up most of my time after 5 p.m. The difficulties of returning to school were coupled with starting my first professional job and taking care of a new pet. I was learning to interact in a professional setting for eight hours a day then return home to keep my mind focused for another four.

Staying diligent on weekly deadlines and reading meant sacrificing other activities, mostly social but also some workouts I had to skip. My friends not in school often indulged in happy hours after work, which I felt I couldn’t enjoy due to deadlines and the sheer amount of work involved in the online communications masters program. Don’t get me wrong, I still managed to maintain a social life. Exerting myself in the hours after work allowed for my social activities to shift toward the weekend, a time when little school work was done unless required. It was and still is difficult to explain to friends that I can’t join them for the Game of Thrones watch parties because I have a paper due.

However, I found my hard work paying off as I earned high scores on my assignments and began applying my communications masters coursework to my professional work. Translating skills learned from the courses to strategic business projects showed the value of my graduate courses. As I move toward graduation, I am eager to get some time back once held captive by reading case studies, writing forum posts and writing evaluations. It’s true that nothing worth doing is easy, but communications graduate school exemplifies the power of self-motivation and a big cup of coffee.

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Meredith Whelchel 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.

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