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Another graduate school question

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Confusion, Nov 15, 2006.

  1. Confusion

    Confusion New Member

    That's kind of what I thought. I mean, the valiant way would be to start off covering local news - cops, town council, etc. - then work your way up. And I admire the hell out of people who do those beats the same way I admire the hell out of people who find fulfillment in doing a bang-up job on prep sports.

    You go to Medill or Columbia or NYU, you're covering that stuff. Or your interning somewhere big.

    I'm from a blue-collar family that kind of scoffed at elitists and taught me that if you work hard, the honorable way is to scratch and claw your way to the top. But the American Dream, noble as it seems, doesn't work out for everybody that way.
  2. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    You are making gigantic assumptions. I repeat: a masters degree, even from one of those schools, is not a guarantee.

    For as much as admissions departments like to hold up grads who are covering major beats, winning major awards and doing major internships at major papers, it's not always the case. For every one of those people, there are nine others who interned at the Podunk Press, covering school board meetings. Those people, surprisingly ::), aren't on the cover of the alumni glossy.

    Also, an advanced degree from one of the big three can close just as many doors as it can open. Not everyone looks upon it favorably. There are editors who don't want to hire Medill or Columbia grads because they don't want to deal with the pretentious attitude.

    I don't mean to demean the benefits of an advanced degree program and, as has been mentioned, future teaching opportunities. It's certainly the right choice for those looking to further formal education. And the big schools do provide educational opportunities that others may not.

    It sounds, in my opinion, that you would be best served by knocking a chip off your shoulder and transferring to the news desk.
  3. Clever username

    Clever username Active Member

    I work with a (news) guy who went to Columbia a few years ago. Ten months and $51,000 in student loans, which includes cost-of-living, rent type expenses. Not trying to dissuade, just putting it out there.
  4. Confusion

    Confusion New Member

    Thanks for the other side. Really.

    But I promise I don't have a chip on my shoulder or anything like that. I guess, in many ways, I'm hoping to help re-set my course after having a chip on my shoulder when I was younger.

    If I came out of one of those schools covering school boards and utilities, I would work to be the best damned school board and utility reporter there ever was. But I'd be doing so without the nagging feeling that I hadn't explored every option.
  5. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    That's fair.

    Your initial posts just made it sound as if you believed an advanced degree from the Big Three would be a "get out of jail free" card past covering the more mundane beats.

    By all means, go back to school if it's what you really want to do. Nothing wrong with it. But be realistic about what it will, and will not, get you.
  6. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    Going to Columbia grad school for journalism is nuts. In case you haven't noticed, the industry is shedding people like trees lose leaves in the fall.
  7. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    Dye Pack:

    There are going to be newspapers, and a better education is a way to protect yourself. And there are always going to be magazines and internet sites which will be new and hire people. One door closes and another opens.
  8. DyePack

    DyePack New Member


    I heard all that 10 years ago.

    There may still be newspapers, but they aren't doing what they used to, or what they should be. What good is it to learn about doing things the right way if you can't do them the right way because of the business management?

    And yes, I'm referring to design doltitude with that, too.
  9. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    On the other hand, you may subscribe to theory that the sky is actually NOT falling, and get yourself a good education in what you want to do. Maybe even in ... gasp ... graphic design.

    In fact, I can think of a person or two who I'd like to tie into a seat and force them to sit through some lectures on graphic design...
  10. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    Hey, it's not my money. If the guy wants to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn a lot about a tiny sliver that's getting even smaller -- go to it.
  11. franticscribe

    franticscribe Well-Known Member

    My advice Confusion: Broaden your graduate school search well beyond your "Big Three" and find the program that will be the most comfortable for you as well as fit your budget. The only Columbia master's grad I ever worked with was at a 25k daily. He was hella talented, and making a 25k-paper salary.

    Also, do some research into what you'll learn in the programs. I'm in a similar situation Confusion and expect to be enrolling in some sort of program next fall. When I started seriously looking, my thought was, I'll got to a 12- to 18-months long program so I can get it done with ASAP. What I found is the short programs tend to be skills-based. And I don't won't to go to grad school to be bored off my ass because I've got a mountain of practical experience.

    Now I'm looking at different kinds of programs that I think will be a better fit, even if they take a bit longer, and might provide some additional skills should I ever decide to get out of this business. I'm also not willing to spend the aforementioned 50k to go to a Columbia if I can get a solid degree for half that elsewhere.

    Take a look at this: http://www.washpost.com/news_ed/summer_internships/bios2005a.shtml

    Those are the bios for the Washington Post's 2005 summer interns -- of the graduate students only two came from your "Big Three" while four came from UC-Berkeley alone. There are a smattering of other schools in there. So what? It's the intern program, but many of the Post's staff hires are interns or former interns. And it goes to show that you can get there from plenty of other schools.

    Go to Columbia or Medill if one of them is the right place for you. But don't go if you expect it to launch you to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or Washington Post. They're not going to land you there. You'll have to do that yourself and graduate school is not a bad way to get moving in that direction.
  12. audreyld

    audreyld Guest

    This may be the best advice here. I see tons of kids who went to a school for name recognition, when their interests would have been much better served by picking a school outside the "Big Three."

    Decide what you want. Pick a program that gets you there, don't pick a program and hope you can make it work for you somehow.
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