Grad School: the pros and cons

October 12, 2009 at 7:29 pm 2 comments

I’ve had a bit of time to think about the Pros and Cons of Graduate school for PR. I’ve decided I definitely want to go.

Here’s why:

  • I crave a high-powered career. My goal is to be an executive  at a PR firm or Corporation, most which have a Masters degree and/or loads of experience.
  • I’m a perfectionist; I want to be one of the best and brightest in the industry.
  • I love learning new things and am constantly coming up with new ideas. I’m continually thinking of ways to improve the way we do things now.
  • A Masters degree would give me more professional credibility and add to my portfolio.

But the question is WHEN?

1) Go right from undergrad into attending grad school Fall 2010.

2) Try to find a job after undergrad, work a few years to get experience, then take time off work to attend grad school.

3) Do both: find a part-time PR job and find a grad school that holds its classes at night (such as the PR/Advertising program at DePaul: classes don’t start until 5:45p.m.).

Since there is not a “black and white” answer to whether one should attend PR grad school or not, and when, I’ve been trying to measure the pros and cons of each option.

If I go to grad school right after undergrad:

The GOODS:

  • Learn more about the industry since I only have a certificate in PR (along with my bachelors degree and multiple “extras”) and feel I haven’t learned enough to stand on my own two feet in the PR world.
  • Name recognition; the name of a prestigious university will be more recognizable than Ferris State to future employers.
  • I’ll be taught by some of the top PR professionals in the industry. This will also give me the chance to network with top PR pros and their affiliates before I enter the job market if I play my cards right.
  • Internships and Capstone projects with Fortune 500 companies through the grad school could lead to future job opportunities– but only IF done extremely well.
  • Presently there is a bad economic climate and I can’t live off an internship’s wages (most unpaid, so that equals zero income).

The BADS:

  • A lot of debt, especially if I am living in the city.
  • Missing out on entry-level experience would put me a year or two behind other recent grads in the job market.
  • Missing out on entry-level experience could hinder my chances of getting a job.
  • Some graduate programs are academic-focused rather than application.
  • Employers may think I’m too “theory-based” because I went straight into grad school.

If I try to find a job after undergrad, work a few years to get experience, then take time off work to attend grad school:

The GOODS:

  • Get a good foundation of experience before diving into higher education.
  • Take more from grad school after working first; ability to apply what I am learning to the “real world” since I’ve been in the industry a few years.
  • Working first could give me a better perspective of what PR field I want to go into and help me “specialize” my courses in grad school.
  • If I do really well during my first few years working, I could make myself an attractive candidate for scholarships and fellowships in grad school.
  • I might be able to have my employer pay for grad school.
  • I also would eventually get most of the benefits if I had gone to grad school right after undergrad: taught by PR pros, name recognition, capstone projects, networking, etc.

The BADS:

  • I would have to find a job in a bad economic climate, most which are either not hiring or are only offering unpaid internships.
  • I would have to find a job that will accept only two years part-time experience in PR.
  • I might start out doing “secretarial” duties with next to no responsibilities whereas I’ve been used to being responsible for stories, projects, ideas, etc. at Ferris.
  • I would have to start paying my student loans from undergrad.
  • I wouldn’t be covered under my mom’s health insurance anymore (which would be bad if my job doesn’t offer benefits).

Do both: find a part-time PR job and find a grad school that holds its classes at night:

The GOODS:

  • Risking sounding a bit cliche, I would be able to kill two birds with one stone.
  • I wouldn’t be worried about making the wrong decision since I’m doing both simultaneously.

The BADS:

  • Time: I’m assuming working full or part-time while your trying to go to grad school and get your homework done is not easy.
  • Sanity: see above.
  • Quality of work in both arenas may suffer due to both of the above.

It seems that in the end, there is no clear right-or-wrong choice. It all amounts to the individual’s preference, lifestyle, and career goals. Does this help me with my decision? Well, not really. But I’m trying.

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Is Grad School for PR a no-go? Loyal to Letterman

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Leah  |  October 12, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    My brother is currently in grad school at Carnegie Mellon, albeit for a different program than the one you are looking for, but what he did was graduate with a degree in engineering from Central Michigan, then he worked for two years and saved pretty much everything he earned. Then he started his grad school at Carnegie, (which is wildly expensive) using his earned money to live on for the first year and a half, (because of his salary at his job, student loans offered little to nothing despite the fact that he would not be working during the school year) which has now run out and he is using student loans to pay. This might be a good way to earn the money to attend grad school and that way you can keep yourself out of debt with more student loans…anyways, that’s just what he did!

    Reply
  • 2. sunryder  |  October 18, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    You know smth…I’m miles away and having kinda the same thoughts. I’m in my second year of BA communication and public relations and I already have mannnnnnnyyyy concerns about my next step towards my carrere. Sry if I didn’t get my Ideas right!

    Reply

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