How to Get Ready to Go Back to School for a Master’s

“Just start.”

“Okay. Now. Start NOW.”

“After five minutes. No, I’ll start after ten. Maybe after I have a snack. Maybe I should cook a five-course meal.”

These were very common thoughts when I started school again. I actively sought out distractions and reasons to procrastinate. Dog? She needed a walk. Dinner? Tomorrow’s breakfast? I conveniently needed to shop and prepare for both meals when it was time to sit and read. Who does that? Me that’s who! Most days I didn’t know where to begin reading or how to start a discussion post.

When I began the MS in Communication program at Purdue it had been ten years since I graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. So many things had changed in those ten years – fashion, food trends, technology, but mostly me. I was now working full-time with extracurricular activities and personal obligations, so it all felt a little (read: very) overwhelming. The interesting thing was that time wasn’t a problem. I had plenty of time! I just needed to relearn how to be a student. For some, transitioning between day job and student is and will be easy, for others, myself included, it is a process that you learn while you are learning other things. And, that is okay.

I also learned to just breathe. It is a little cliché, but when you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, uncertain about where or how to begin, breathe. I also remember something that Dr. Brian Chupp said to our class – “Pace yourself.” Thankfully he shared this in the first class of the program and it has been my mantra throughout. So much so, I have shared it with my friends beginning communication graduate programs elsewhere.

After eight classes, countless chapters read, and dozens of papers written, I still experience that hesitation when I need to begin studying. The overwhelming mix of excitement and enthusiasm still get the best of me, but all it takes is a small pause and deep breath to get me back on track and focused on the opportunities ahead.
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Ann Simon 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
I am a graphic designer with over ten years of experience working with a variety of industries. I currently work at a community college in Los Angeles, California, and feel fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be a part of students’ lives while doing what I love. My skills range from branding, all aspects of print design, web design, and social media.

When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family, chasing my niece and nephews, spoiling my dog Pixel, and discovering new coffee places around Los Angeles.

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