Choosing to pursue my master’s degree was not an easy decision. It was a decision I started thinking about in my junior year of high school and it informed my decision for where to complete my undergraduate degree.
I am thankful every day for my decision to work on my M.A. in Communication from Queens University of Charlotte. It has given me so many ways to explore my passions, learn from my peers’ experiences, and creatively apply my learning. Today, I wanted to take some time to explain why I made my decision and pose some questions to think about if you are considering become a master as well.
No, I’m not talking about my parents or blood relatives. I’m talking about the Queens family. I became part of the family when I enrolled as an undergraduate and that family was not something I was ready to let go of when I donned my cap and gown in 2017. I knew that grad school was going to be hard and that I would need need a support system, so a strong university family was a key factor in my decision.
Since starting the program in August, my cohort has become a family to me. We study at each other’s houses, ask about each other’s professional and personal goals, and even watch each other’s wedding videos! They are an amazing group of people who I would not trade for the world.
Speaking of my cohort…
Technically, Queens does not follow a cohort model. Students are free to take classes in just about any order, so first-semester students may find themselves in classes with students who are about to graduate. Even still, the program is so small that it feels like a cohort.
In class, I see many familiar faces but we always have a new addition or two to shake things up. Because our classes are small (so far, my largest has been 22 and my smallest has been 5), we get to know each other and have real conversation. We all know each other and have the time to delve in and really learn from one another.
This is not something I could get from a massive program with lecture halls full of 150 students nor is it something I could get from a cohort of 5-10 students. Queens offered a class size I was comfortable with and a cohort I felt I could connect with and learn from.
Safe Place to Explore
In my degree, I did not want a cookie-cutter program. This is part of why I strayed away from mass communication and MBA programs that are typically more standardized. Not to say there is anything wrong with these programs, but they just did not offer the flexibility and creativity I was looking for.
I wanted a program where I felt safe to explore. Want to write a paper about group dynamics in a Facebook group for new brides? Go for it! Want to publish a capstone project about the organizational structure of a navigation app? Sounds fun!
This is what I wanted. A place where I felt not only safe to explore my interests, but encouraged. I may have been able to find this somewhere else, but I knew I could get it from Queens. I knew the professors and I knew the culture. They would not force me into a box or restrict my creativity.
At Queens, we are encouraged to take classes outside of our program and use them to further our interests. For example, I am taking an MBA course in Organizational Behavior and transferring the credits to my M.A. in Communication. This flexibility to take classes in the MBA and M.S. in Organizational Development programs was a major selling point for me.
Now, I love my program and am not just looking for ways to avoid the professors and students in my typical classes. It is important to step outside of your typical studies to explore something new. It gives you perspective and encourages you to make connections that you might never have known existed. This was not initially something I had high on my priority list when searching for programs, but it was a deal-maker when I started looking into the details of my options.
A major point I struggled with in deciding to pursue a master’s was the career opportunities that would become available. I wasn’t sure if spending a lot of time and money on a degree would actually make a difference in my career.
I voiced my concerns to my adviser at Queens who helped me see what a graduate degree could make possible for me. It opened the door to teaching (which I love), consulting, exploring areas I glossed over in undergrad, learning from a diverse group of peers, and connecting with industry experts.
In knowing where my degree could take me, I was encouraged to take the first step.
Are you ready?
This is just my journey. I am by no means an expert in academic counseling, but I have been through the process and I can give you a few things to think about.
If you are considering a graduate degree, here are some questions I encourage you to ask yourself a few questions:
- What are my professional goals and will another degree help me reach them?
- Why did I consider a degree in the first place? What does this say about me?
- How will a degree program develop me as a person?
- What do I want from a degree?
- What kind of person do I want to be? How will a graduate program help me become that person?
Congratulations on considering a graduate degree and I wish you all the best as you take the next steps!