An Unconventional Approach to Grad School
Today’s post is by campus correspondent Juliana Zipay, a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. Find out how you can become a campus correspondent, too!
I have somehow reached the point in my life where four years of college have already passed me by and I am starting grad school soon. Don’t ask me how that happened, because I honestly couldn’t give you an answer. But, in perfect Juliana-form, I can never do anything too conventionally, and that is all too true of my grad school plans — and I’m not just talking about moving from semesters to quarters.
Killing Two Birds with One Stone
First things first: I will be attending Drexel University starting this fall to pursue my Master of Library and Information Science … while living in Pittsburgh (mind you, Drexel is located in Philadelphia — four hours away). Confused yet? Most people are.
But here’s your clarification: I am going to complete my entire degree through a web-based curriculum. Full-time. So, while many students will spend their hours in a classroom, I will be learning the same lessons (with the same professors and units being taught on-campus), from the comfort of my home.
The best part is that I will be receiving the exact same degree as my on-campus counterparts because, in essence, the program is exactly the same. Because of this, I will be able to work full-time and be a full-time student simultaneously. It is a pretty cool deal when one thinks about it … but also quite challenging.
My decision to complete my graduate studies like this did not come lightly. Of course, the traditional on-campus experience would have been enlightening, but, in this economy, who can afford to work a part-time job, go to school full-time, and then graduate with the experience they need to get the job they want? You’ll find the numbers are pretty low.
The more I thought about it, the more I came to appreciate the idea of increasing my education while getting the necessary experience and, voilà, this plan was born. It would be hard work, but I enjoy having a lot on my plate at once. The more in my life there is to tackle, the easier I can organize them and my time efficiently. Plus, my concentration in this program is Digital Libraries, which is very computer-heavy as it is, so I feel like I’m killing two birds with one stone by getting my lecture digitally, too.
Preparing for a New Lifestyle
Preparing for this drastic change in my educational lifestyle might be impossible. And I have completely come to terms with that. Although I understand the concept of web-based courses and what is entailed with them, I have never taken one in any of my four years of undergrad. Getting into the swing of making sure I schedule blocks of time for classes, on my own time, while I am lounging in all the comforts of my home might be my biggest challenge.
This type of program is not for everyone. I have a lot of friends who have told me they would not be able to do what I plan to do simply because they know they do better in a classroom environment. But if you can manage your time effectively and wean yourself off checking Facebook every 10 minutes, then I think it should definitely be considered.
At the very least, this program will give me something to do in my off-hours of not being at work. At the most, I will come away with a graduate degree that I am passionate about that was achieved through hard work and will lead me to do great things with my life that I love. But, mostly, I look forward to being able to learn how to manage my time and myself while learning about a field that I am greatly interested in.
Juliana Zipay is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in Communication and minors in Theatre Arts and Film Studies, as well as a certificate in Children’s Literature. She will be attending graduate school this fall for her Master of Library and Information Sciences, with a focus on digital libraries. Her interests include, but are definitely not limited to, social networking, coffee, traveling, learning, and sleeping (whenever she can).