I have wanted to be a journalist for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I watched the nightly news with my dad. In high school and college, I pursued as many journalism internships as I could find. I've always made a point to write as much as possible, whenever possible.
When I graduated from Clark Atlanta University, the recession hit. The only job offer I had was to run the marketing department for my family's business in Jackson, Mississippi. Daddy's girl that I am, I took it. But when my father passed in 2015, company morale took a turn for the worse, and the business came to an end. I knew that it was time to give my dream a shot.
I knew I needed to learn more about social media if I was ever going to become a successful journalist. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram had changed the landscape for both reporting and news consumption, but I couldn't fully grasp how to use them as a professional in the field. With this in mind, I decided to go back to school to pursue my Masters in Communications.
Traveling back and forth to campus and completing courses within a strict schedule didn't appeal to me, so I looked into online programs. My research grew extensive during a Mississippi ice storm (I was stuck in my house for days). To my luck, I landed on my ideal program: Communications@Syracuse, the online Masters in Communications program from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
This program has allowed me to take full control of my learning experience. It's also helped me learn more about my skills, which I now know include a knack for time-management and the organization needed to prioritize short-term goals. Online programs require graduate students to be self-motivated and incredibly disciplined. The lack of traditional classroom structure can easily create opportunities to fall behind.
Of course, I had doubts. Would I be the oldest in class? Would the online format be isolating? Was I losing out on the support system traditional grad programs provide? Once I took the leap, here's what I found out:
If you think that everyone who enrolls in graduate school just finished college, think again. These days, students pursue real-life experience—whether through work, travel, or alternative learning—before continuing their studies. The student in the Communications@Syracuse program is 31 years old. Syracuse's Newhouse School also has a standing Committee on Diversity. This group is made up of faculty, staff, and students who help ensure that a range of perspectives is reflected and included in all areas of the school community. Syracuse prides itself on a diverse campus. Minority students make up 24.7 percent of the total student population.
All of the students in my classes are busy with so much more than graduate school. The program's schedule is a huge benefit; in this case, allowing us to balance various commitments with school and receive our degrees in as little as 15 months. Students take no more than two classes during a 12-week semester, which equates to about 24 hours of class time per week plus time for studying and assignments. It's a format that supports my lifestyle: I can work from home, balance school with a full-time job, and find time to spend with family and friends.
By using a Learning Management System (LMS), I can access class resources, speak with instructors, participate in peer-led discussions, stream lectures, and evaluate my progress. LMS is designed to help students build and maintain strong relationships within their course environment. It also provides an easy-to-use interface and 24-hour technical support, creating a stress-free environment that makes learning accessible just about anywhere.
Once students enroll in Communications@Syracuse, the school's student success team provides an introduction to the online learning platform with any necessary technological assistance. The program also pairs students with academic advisors who provide strategic and personalized support to ensure they meet their goals. After graduation, students join the Newhouse Network, an online platform of recognizable names across the media and communications industries, as well as networking and job opportunities.
My program focuses on current trends and technologies that shape the way we deliver and consume news, advertising, and content. Through five core and three specialization courses, I've gained an understanding of the digital world and feel confident seeking out new and innovative opportunities within online communication. It’s distance learning format also incorporates a global perspective by offering enrollment access to international students. Thanks to this, I’ve developed a network of contacts from all over the world.
Communications@Syracuse immersions are hosted domestically and internationally twice a year, offering students the opportunity to interact with classmates, faculty, and experts in the field. Through networking sessions, hands-on activities, and guest lectures, students put their newfound knowledge to work and plan for where the future of the industry may take them.
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