Returning to School to Earn Your Communication Masters is Easier Than You Think

Emma Hawes

Emma Hawes, Student & Alumni

I would be lying if I said going back to school is easy. It’s hard because it’s easier than what you think. There’s so many other elements that make graduate school harder such as your friend circle is not with you and it is a whole new journey. Plus, the words “graduate school” seem like a monster, but it’s not. The hardest part is getting started and dealing with a change of schedule. However, I was willing to have something to do that was productive.

In college, I toyed around with the idea of graduate school. I looked at a few programs, but with much excitement I decided that going out into the workforce might be the ideal route for me.

My dream did not come true. Upon graduation, I planned to continue working at my part-time job as a stage manager for Hail State Productions, until I found full-time employment. That wasn’t the case. The lease on my house was running out and I had to leave that job. However, I luckily landed a freelance gig, which helped me learn a variety of skills.

When moving back home, I thought about communications graduate programs. It did not strike me as a good idea. In undergraduate, I had obtained 3 concentrations. It felt so sad to me because I had worked countless hours from when my classes engulfed my free time and serving on extracurricular activities to doing three hours of Pilates some days and catching up on shows friends had recommended to me in undergraduate. My boss could probably tell you that I was eager to work extra hours. While at a friend’s house, her mother said, “Well Emma you might just want to look around again. Give it a try at least, but don’t jump in hastily.”

About a week later at Starbucks one day, I was sitting and I thought what if there was an online communications masters program. I will never forget having an epiphany in that brown leather couch. I only had about 20 minutes before I had to leave, but I didn’t waste a moment Googling online graduate school programs.

After getting lunch one day, I received a phone call from Ramsey Ghunim, a member of the online admission’s team. He was great at giving advice and listening. Ramsey learned a lot about me such as my diverse background in broadcasting, journalism and public relations while helping me apply for the program.

I learned that when choosing a graduate school program look at the set up of the program as well as whether it is on campus or online. Purdue University’s online graduate program seemed so right because I felt as though I would not be confined to a classroom. In undergraduate, I had three concentrations where I had spent so much time on campus. Getting into the program was a blessing, but I was still nervous. Right now, I’m proudly in my fourth class and I’m not stopping until I get my Master of Science in Communication.

If you have trouble getting started, create your own circle related to your career and have them motivate you. Plus, with a graduate school program online you can work at your own pace. Also, it’s great because you do not have to leave your current job.

Trust me you are smarter than what you think. I had roughly 13 months between undergraduate and graduate school, but time should not be an element. Don’t be concerned about being the oldest person in the classroom. Yes graduate school is a commitment that costs time and money, but consider it an investment.  If you have any doubts, just push them aside because you will be led in the right direction.

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Emma Hawes 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.