So it’s been a few years since you were last in school. Maybe it’s been a few decades. Whatever the case is, you are probably nervous, and it’s perfectly understandable that you feel this way. If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking for some advice. I can sum up my best advice to prospective strategic communication students in one simple word.
Run as fast as you can to fill out that application for Purdue’s graduate strategic communication program, and then get ready for a life-changing experience.
I was fortunate in the fact that I went back for my undergrad degree later in life – 34 years old to be exact. After graduating two years ago, I decided to keep moving. I had an advantage that some of my fellow students did not. I was well versed in writing papers, enough that I could write them in my sleep if necessary. I knew the ins and outs of APA style, how to balance work with school, and how to conduct effective research. That’s not to say that my classmates did not know how to do this, they may have just been a bit rusty. Also, many received their undergrad in a situation where their sole focus was being a student, going to school and working full-time was something new, and honestly, it can be terrifying.
What’s an APA formatted paper? What constitutes a quality reference? I have to travel for work – how am I going to get this major project done? These are all worthy questions, but you need not worry. The instructional staff at Purdue want to see you succeed and they will help – all you have to do is ask. The program was designed, in part, for working professionals. Remember, many of the instructors have full-time jobs outside of teaching. They understand your situation. After all, if you succeed, they succeed. There isn’t a secret mission to weed students out by letting those that struggle fall behind so they just give up. Instead, it’s the exact opposite. Feedback is constructive and designed to allow the student to grow their knowledge and improve their skills. Instructors are responsive to the needs of their students. Most importantly, they will help you when you need it. No, they are not going to write your final papers for you, but they will give you the resources and constructive criticism you need to get the grade you want, not the one you will settle for.
This isn’t to say the graduate strategic communications program is easy, because it’s not. You will be challenged, however, the knowledge you gain will be used in your career on a daily basis. After all, that’s why you are considering this program, right?
Put those shoes on, run to fill out that application, and in 20 months, you can finally slow down to a walk. You can walk down that aisle in the Elliott Hall of Music to receive your diploma, just like my classmates and I did this past May.
Kevin Jenkins is an alumni 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.