To Grad School or Not to Grad School??

By Bob O’Gara, Professor PR, Advertising and IMC, Point Park University 

First the obvious disclaimer:  I teach at the grad level and undergrad level at Point Park University. That said, after 25 years I am generally on top of trends in higher education and career development. For what it’s worth, here are my principles for graduate study beyond the Bachelor’s level.

1) Have a clear career goal or personal reason for reentering the academic path.  It could be gaining new skills, getting more current in the professions or even re-charging your personal and professional “system”.  In some cases you may want/need an advanced degree in communications or a business, management, leadership , law etc. degree.

2) Be sure you have the time.   Sounds obvious, but from an educator’s perspective lack of time results in poor grades and limited learning.

3) Select the format most applicable to your lifestyle.  The offerings now include online only, regular classroom attendance and a hybrid combining both.  Online is deceptively easy to accept nut it requires enormous self-discipline and classroom offers a comfortable personal environment that you may be very used to.

4) Pick a major, degree or set of courses that best suit your needs.  Consider skill based courses to enhance your technology, more theoretical or strategic courses or even intellectual courses in the liberal arts to heighten critical thought.

5) Some general principles:  Study course construction (syllabi, etc.)  carefully.  Research your teachers for the right combinations of professional and academic experiences.  Review the required readings for relevance.  Sit in on classes BEFORE you commit to a program.  Ask to meet recent graduates and current students.

Grad school is a serious commitment and often a long time period.  Today’s times mean we must commit to lifelong learning, but how we do it may be grad school or another avenue to professional development such as PRSA professional meetings and workshops.

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