My semester of graduate school has come to a close and I figure it’s only appropriate to reflect upon and sum it all up as my final blog post of Fall 2014. Every day, every week, every course, everything came with a learning lesson at Boston University’s College of Communication (COM). As a first semester Master’s student, the past three months have not been a bag of gummy bears. Everything was so different from college, and everything I’ve ever thought about school was thrown out the window. It was a completely different world equipped with completely different learning lessons.
Lesson #1: Getting by on the hard days.
Hard days are unavoidable. They happen to all of us. My strategies? More like denial. I’ll usually do something else, whether it’s stuff I have to do anyway, like laundry or grocery shopping, or something that interests me, like reading a book for fun or dancing. Then, when I feel up to it, I’ll come back and address whatever it is that’s bothering me. I’ll probably go out for a run or sweat it off at the gym, then make some dinner and try to forget about my problems temporarily with The Office reruns.
I think it’s important to recognize that we all need some time to switch our minds to “off” and watch some TV or engage in something mindless without feeling guilty. When all else fails, if my motivation level just can’t seem to climb back up, even after watching the antics of Dunder Mifflin Scranton’s regional manager, I turn all electronics off and just get a good night’s sleep. I also try to think about my goals (why I’m here in grad school) and my successes so far. This helps me counterbalance the setbacks and help feed my motivation to get up in the morning. Never go to bed angry or sad on a hard day, trust me, you won’t be getting a good night’s sleep.
Lesson #2: Handling A Full Plate
Grad school is all about prioritizing…everyone says you can do everything if you just make time. There are impending deadlines, projects to film, events to attend and write about, assistantships, extra-curriculars, jobs outside of school, actual studying, and of course trying to find enough time to cram in a social life and sleep. But the worst of the all is that dreaded virus we always seem to catch mid-semester: procrastination. It’s contagious…so don’t give in! I won’t lie, this was one of the most difficult things to handle but that’s why it’s a learning lesson. We learn to not procrastinate, (or do we?), we learn to get everything turned in on time, we learn to take one weekend off from drinking to catch up on schoolwork and sleep, and we learn to get any extra help we may need. As busy as my classmates were, and as much as we all struggled during those hard days, we all came out alive.
Lesson #3: Maintaining Good Emotional/Mental/Physical Health
There will be weeks where you feel extra frazzled and overwhelmed, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. Stress can trigger so much of your emotional, physical, and mental health. It’s important to make sure you try and get plenty of sleep. Planning on pulling an all-nighter to finish that last project or study for an exam? Forget it…just go to bed and come back to it in the morning. Or, if you followed Lesson #2 and try to get everything done on time by planning accordingly, you won’t be in that situation. Avoid procrastination at all costs, as that is the number one trigger of stress.
Lesson #4: Taking Advantage of Resources
Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are to have a university basement that’s fully equipped with every single camera, recorder, tripod, etc. known to mankind. Not to mention, we have department newsletters that offer lists of internship opportunities, drop-in career advice time slots, or the excellent list of faculty advisors who are always just an email away if we ever need guidance. One of the best things about BU’s College of Communication is the amount of invaluable resources handed to us at any and all times. You’re spending enough time and money into your education, so why not take advantage of all the freebies and sources while you can? It’s also important to take advantage of the amazing courses offered every semester, whether they are within or outside your intended concentration. It’s also about learning for the sake of learning and practicing for the sake of getting better; grad school isn’t about regurgitating textbook materials on an exam to receive a grade. It’s about fundamental learning and really soaking in the content we are exposed to every day. We are offered a practical, hands-on vocational education where we learn lessons outside of textbook academia. We’re also given extracurricular activities with several different publications around campus such as the BU Buzz, The Daily Free Press, Good Morning BU, BU News Service, etc. Don’t think of joining publications as a chore—think of it as an opportunity to network, gain experience, get inspired, get published, and have some fun.
Overall, it’s been an amazing first semester at COM and it makes me sad to think that in only a year I’ll be saying goodbye to this program, professors, and the wonderful friends I’ve made in such a short amount of time. In just over three months, I’m better equipped and more than ready to take on the spring semester, where I’ll be taking 20 credits, writing for Boston University News Service (BUNS) and a graduate assistantship waiting. But hey, that’s what I signed up for, isn’t it?