Category Archives: Application Process

Waiting is the Hardest Part

The primary application deadline has passed. And to those of you who submitted your application, congratulations! That in itself is an achievement. So take a second to give yourself a pat on the back.

But don’t let that pat last too long. There is still work to be done in the coming months.

The first part doesn’t require anything from you. As you read this, your applications are with the faculty committees being reviewed. The committees will look over all of the applicants and come to a decision on who will be admitted – we are excited to have so many terrific applicants, but unfortunately, we have to narrow it done to a chosen few.

Once those decisions are made, you will receive an email from us with you admission decision. Of course, if you submitted your application before our December 15 priority notification deadline, you will be among the first to get your email. This email will contain not only your decision, but will also notify you of any scholarship opportunities you will have from us. Remember, if you aren’t notified of any scholarship opportunities, there are many other options to help you with the financial side of grad school. These include Stafford Loans, graduate assistantships, teaching assistantships, just to name a few (more info can be found here).

Getting your decision is only a step in the process. If you’re accepted, you’ll have to decide if COM is the right fit for you (and we certainly think it is). We know now that making the decision of if/where to attend grad school means that you will have many new questions, and we want to do our best to answer them. Remember, you can always reach us via email (comgrad@bu.edu) or phone (617-353-3481). And don’t forget about our COM podcast, which will continue through the coming months to answer any and all questions you may have. But above all, we want to try to make this process as easy as possible in person.

That’s why we will be doing a spring tour, stopping in various cities to meet with accepted students who want to learn more about COM. The stops on our tour this spring will include:

Los Angeles-Tuesday, March 25
San Francisco-Thursday, March 27
Seattle- Sunday, March 30
Denver-Sunday, March 30
Chicago-Monday, March 31
Washington, DC-Monday, April 7
Charlotte-Monday, April 7
New York-Tuesday, April 8
Austin-Tuesday, April 8

All of these visits will culminate with our accepted students visiting day on the afternoon of Friday, April 11. This will allow prospective students to meet with current students, faculty, and graduate services representatives, as well as get to check out Boston and COM.

So congrats once again. Completing the application is a big step in your process, but it is just one. So take some time to recover and get ready for the rest of the journey. We will see you along the way.

Check out the COMGrad Podcast

Here at COM Grad we have been looking for new and different ways to get information to potential students. In an effort to continue this, we recently started the BU COM Grad Podcast. Fellow COM student (and good friend) Andy and I are joining forces to spread the knowledge of COM to the ears of anyone who wants to learn more about our programs and application process (or hear our witty banter).

Luckily, we will not be delivering the information alone. We will be joined by members of the COM faculty to answer questions ranging from the application process to financial aid to specific looks into different programs. From the episodes we have done, I have already learned information that would have been very useful to know during my application process.

But most importantly, we want to help you. We want to answer the questions that real-life perspective students have about anything COM. So send us your questions, and we will find the answer and bring it up on the podcast. Don’t be shy, because odds are if you have a question, someone else is wondering the same thing.
So send us your questions. You can email us at comgrad@bu.edu (use “Podcast” in the subject header) or via twitter @bucomgrad (use #COMpodcast). And to catch up, here are the episodes we have completed thus far.

Hitting the Road

Throughout the fall the College of Communication will be hitting the road, and making stops in a number of cities around the country to meet with prospective students. The schedule is as follows, and I can speak from experience when I say it is worth your while to try to attend…

Sunday, September 29 – Chicago (Bar Event)

Tuesday, October 1 – University of Toronto (Graduate Fair)

Saturday, October 12 – London (Graduate Fair)

Tuesday, October 15 – Milan (Graduate Fair)

Tuesday, October 22 – UNC Chapel Hill (Graduate Fair)

Thursday, October 24 – University of Florida (Graduate Fair)

Thursday, October 24 – Gainsville, FL (Bar Event)

Tuesday, October 29 – Boston (Bar Event)

Monday, November 4 – Denver (Bar Event)

Tuesday, November 5 – Los Angeles (Bar Event)

Thursday, November 7 – San Francisco (Bar Event)

Sunday, November 10 – Seattle (Bar Event)

When I was a prospective student, it was one of these very “meet and greets” that helped me finalize my decision to attend BU. I sat down with Dean Sabovik and a handful of graduate assistants for dinner in San Francisco, and peppered them with all of the questions that I had. The meeting was more of a therapy session than a graduate school information session, because I was downright terrified to move all the way across the country to attend BU. I had lived in Seattle for my entire life. My family, friends, job…everything I knew was in Seattle. And the idea of traveling 3000 miles away from home to attend grad school was freaking me out. But in meeting with the crew of BU folks, I was not only able to learn a lot about the program that I was interested in, but I was able to find out more about what life is like for students. Basically, my stress level was drastically reduced. I knew I was interested in the school, it was just very reassuring to hear from current students about what exactly I was getting myself into.

As a graduate assistant, I am lucky enough to be a part of these trips as a representative of the College of Communication. It really is the best part of my job. Deciding which school to attend can be a daunting process, and incredibly stressful. For me to be a part of that process, and offer advice and personal experience is a really rewarding feeling. I especially enjoy being on this side of the process, because I was on the other side just over a year ago.

I hope to see you this fall. Be sure to RSVP to the event in your area, and you can do that right here.

The Reason I Chose BU

My path to BU was a little different then my fellow bloggers. Firstly, BU was not my first choice. I had eyes for only one school – NYU. It was what drove me to apply to graduate school in the first place – I wanted to be a New York City gal.

However, a friend cautioned me not to put all my eggs in one basket and suggested two other top Communication schools I should try for. So I applied to NYU Steinhardt, Georgetown University, and Boston University and, low and behold, I got into all three. When decision time came around I hesitated. Shouldn’t I just check out these other schools before dismissing them off the bat? I mean I did take the time to apply and pay for the pleasure of it. So, when I got back from Spain I set off on a graduate pilgrimage.

My life changing decision

Overall, I loved them all, which made my decision even harder. I saw a metaphorical, yet all too real, crossroad ahead of me. Whatever school I choose would lead me down a specific path that would be hard to deviate from. Georgetown had a beautiful campus (think Harry Potter – I’m still waiting for my letter). The classes sounded extremely interesting and the professors were all big players in their respective fields. However, they were too politically oriented for my test as well as mainly theoretical.

NYU, my love, was, unfortunately, mainly theoretical as well. It was ridiculously (yes ridiculously) interesting and married closely to my undergraduate degree in anthropology (which is not the study of ants, people). However, it was just too academically focused. I knew if I went there I would be following a path that would inevitably lead to a faculty position at a university – which was the main reason I had decided not to continue my studies in anthropology. Also, though the people at the actual college were nice and helpful during open house, the admission people were a little off putting and I got the feeling that they didn’t really care if I attended or not.

BU, quite frankly, surprised me. One of the main reasons I never really considered BU was because of its close proximity to my hometown. I wanted to get out of Massachusetts, badly. I had been extremely pleased with BU’s admission process – I actually felt like they cared that I was interested in their school. However, I wasn’t really expecting their open house to affect my decision. I had, at that moment, decided to send in my deposit to NYU and was just going at the behest of my family. BU, however, seemed to know exactly what I needed.

Several keywords were emphasized throughout the event – practical experience, alumni network, support, bacon wrapped bread (truth). The professors were affable and the admission staff downright charming. During the breakout sessions the professors in my program, Communication Studies, were honest and encouraging. They made sure I knew what type of program I would be getting into – a practically oriented one. This was also the only open house that took 30 minutes to discuss, without prompt, how I could possibly afford the program.

After another week of hemming and hawing I sent in my deposit, to BU. For me, someone looking for a program that would help jump-start my career in Communication, this was the best and obvious choice. I have not regretted it since.

 

Making The Final Decision

A difficult choice

Choosing a graduate school is, unsurprisingly, very different from selecting your undergraduate institution. For one thing, your priorities are different. You’re much older, and with advanced age comes new, specific goals that you have honed over the course of your previous four (five…six?) years. Therefore, it is important to make sure that when deciding what graduate program to attend you don’t think of it as the same type of rah-rah rose-colored selection process as before. Think of graduate school as one final step into your transition to the working world, whether you are entering for the first time or looking for a career change. Five things to think about:

Cost: Like undergraduate work, graduate school often comes with significant cost. Let’s not fail to acknowledge the obvious. Tuition and student fees (and living expenses) are the elephants in the room when determining the right place to continue your education, and they shouldn’t be ignored. Loans are great — there’s a stigma to taking advantage of them, but they do help people who otherwise may not be able to afford a great education — but you only want to take out so much. Remember, you’ll need to pay back what you take out eventually. Don’t be afraid of loans. Most students here at B.U. take advantage of these, and we have a great staff to help you figure out all of the scary vocabulary, confusing percentages and indecipherable fine print. On the other hand, you want to take advantages of scholarships and grants, just like you did at your previous school. If a school is offering you a hefty scholarship, this will most likely be (and should be) a significant factor for consideration. Make sure to make the best decision for you, but be equally sure that you can afford it, either now or down the road when you start making repayments.

Location: The real estate matters. Remember, graduate school is about honing (there’s that word again) a refined skill that you are hoping to turn into a lucrative career. Part of that process is making sure you receive a first-class education, which B.U. and other schools provide. The other part of that is networking, which is one of the major keys to success. You aren’t just choosing a school for the information you are going to get in the classroom. The professors and career contacts and fellow students you will meet along the way are a big part of the graduate experience. To best take advantage of this, make sure that you are comfortable with where you are geographically. Boston is obviously a leading city for creative, innovative, entrepreneurial minds. Aside from the city’s undeniable intellectual clout, Boston offers a wide array of academic, social and cultural resources, including museums, PR firms, corporate headquarters, leading journalistic enterprises, history, entertainment, sports and much more. It’s hard to not like Boston once you’ve been here, but whatever your decision, make sure that you can make yourself feel enough at home to take advantage of your environment.

Who’s in charge here: Look up your future professors. Find out what their interests are. Here at B.U., we have some of the most welcoming staff members, from administrators on down, that you will find anywhere. Trust me. These people are ready to help you. They want to help you. If you find a professor with similar interests as you, ask what you can gain from their program. Make sure to do your research: find out who teaches the classes, what they’ve done, who they know. Ask them questions about their work, about their classes and the school. You can find out so much information this way, and all it takes is a quick email or a short phone call. Not only will you get a better sense of what a graduate program is like, but you will give that graduate program a sense of who you are. These connections are invaluable once you arrive on campus.

Think logistics: Once you decide that you like a certain program, you’ll have to start thinking of the practical necessities that are often forgotten in the decision-making process. Where are you going to live? How much does it cost for a typical apartment? Stake out each location and think ahead. Many schools, including B.U., have resources to help you with this sort of thing. Most of that will take place after accepting an offer, but it doesn’t hurt to start considering these factors beforehand.

Have fun deciding: It’s very easy to get stressed out while you are trying to decide between two or three (or more) terrific schools. When you find yourself on the verge of pulling out all of you hair, just remind yourself that two or three great schools want me to join their program! Getting admitted to graduate school is a great accomplishment and a pretty big deal for most people. Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back. Don’t feel like you need to rush your decision. Think of how great your future looks. Daydream about the possiblilites, try to imagine yourself at each school, and find out what will truly make you happy as a graduate student. Once you do all of that, the choice will be a much easier one to make.

Good luck and enjoy the ride. It’s an exciting experience.

 

BU East Campus and Charles River