How to Fit in Grad School and Business Travel


Jane Siggelko, Student & Alumni

Why did I choose an online program instead of an on-campus learning experience? That’s an easy one. I wanted flexibility. As an Account Executive with a global association management company, I don’t always work a normal schedule. I travel frequently for client events, and I work late to meet deadlines. I wasn’t ready to give that up. After all, I chose to go to school to become a better employee. I was confident I could find a program that would allow me to maintain my sometimes hectic work schedule while earning a graduate degree. I found that in Purdue.

Purdue’s online MS Communication program provides flexibility in several ways:

1. You don’t have the stress of being late to class.

Purdue’s program doesn’t require you to attend class at a specific time or on a specific day. This is a biggie. Every day at work is different. I can’t guarantee that every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I can make it to a classroom at 6:00 pm. Having the flexibility to complete my readings, discussion posts and projects on my own time made going back to school pretty low-stress.

2. You don’t have to turn assignments in on the same day every week.

A preliminary discussion post is due by Wednesday each week, but you are welcome to turn them in earlier to fit your schedule. I frequently travel from Monday to Wednesday. Knowing this, I would submit my discussion posts on Sunday or Monday and then respond to classmates’ posts when I returned home later in the week. Having this flexibility allowed me to focus on work when I was gone and avoid missing deadlines.

3. You can take a personal day every once in a while.

Graduate classes are difficult. To be successful, you have to remain focused and retain each week’s reading material. With that said, sometimes you just need a personal day. Transitioning to school assignments after a hard day at work can be nearly impossible some days. Purdue’s structured, deadline-driven online program allows students to take a day off here and there, giving them the opportunity to refocus for the week without falling behind in class.

As much as I enjoy flexibility, it isn’t for everyone. Some students learn better in the classroom where they are able to interact face-to-face with professors and classmates. If, however, you are able to focus at home (or anywhere really) and stay on top of deadlines, an online program may be just what you’re looking for.

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Jane Siggelko is a graduate of 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.