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What I learned in one semester of grad school, and why you should go back to school

If anyone considers going to grad school while working full-time, I wholeheartedly say go for it. As a working professional, you get used to a routine – 8am-5pm, for instance, or for those of us working in sports media production, something like 7pm-3am during baseball season.

Adding grad school to that mix forced me to adjust my expectations of what I was capable of doing. Suddenly, you have to find time for two or three extra projects due in two weeks for class when you’re losing 40-plus hours a week to your job that pays the bills. Initially, I thought, “Oh jeez, there’s no way I can hammer out all that” but I did it. You find a way to get the work done and not only finish it on-time, but do a good job on it because the inner desire to succeed is what powers you through.

The first things to get cut from my daily time budget were exercise and sleep. Instead of, lets’s day, running two or three times a week around visiting the gym a couple times too, I could run, at best, once a week. While I wasn’t quite completely sleep-deprived, I became reliant on naps on the uptown A or 1 trains while headed to class. Without much exercise besides walking around the city or Citibike rides, the naps kept me mentally fresh. Thanks to those 10-15 minute brain refreshers, I didn’t need to pound coffee all day and put more physical stress on myself.

You relearn how to work with people from every discipline and walk of life. My professional circle tends to include high-strung Type-A personalities (I would identify in that category as well) who are focused on time-sensitive deadlines. In stark contrast, my classmates this past semester were more creative and found unique solutions to project objectives through deliberate discussion. It wasn’t easy but I had to remember to be patient and understand different styles for winding up at a conclusion when testing out different ideas. With about half of the class made up of international students, I enjoyed meeting and working with people from across the globe. I gained a fresh perspective thanks to their relative lack of familiarity with American consumerism and advertising.

There’s an unbelievably strong satisfaction gained from a great finish to a semester. Without sounding too corny it really was a great reminder why setting goals and working towards them can help you rediscover your purpose. I feel I know far better now where my life is headed and what my professional strengths and weaknesses are than six months ago.

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