How I Made My Graduate School Decision

I went a little crazy applying to graduate schools. Total, I applied to eight – four for music and four for broadcast journalism. (More on that decision in this blog: A New Direction.) Basically, after I heard that I was accepted to every school I applied to for broadcasting, I took that as a sign and cancelled my music school callbacks and threw myself into making a decision to attend the best broadcasting school for me.

See, I applied to broadcast schools last minute as far as application deadlines go because I didn’t even know myself that I was going to apply in the first place. Therefore, I threw caution to the wind and applied to three of the top ten schools in the country for broadcasting, with only one safe school. A recipe for rejection... Somehow, I got lucky and it paid off.

I started to heavily research the four schools. Here was my decision process:

School A: This was my “safe school.” I was 99% sure I’d get into the program for the simple fact that I graduated summa cum laude from my undergrad. They have a good journalism program, but not among the very best. I had initially planned to apply there for a Master of Music in opera as well since I had heard there was a private teacher there who may be a good fit for me. I figured, if I could do a dual degree, this school would be a good option. After I got in, I talked with two of the professors. I learned that this school did not have much training at all in broadcasting, though they’d be willing to set something extra up for me in the broadcasting field. Their main specialty was print journalism. It was also not located near a major news market. For these reasons, I decided it just wasn’t the right fit.

School B: A top ten broadcasting school. Right in the heart of a MAJOR news hub - you could say the biggest in the world. I reached out to the admissions office and asked who I could speak with about the program. The student gave me a link to an online sign-up sheet to speak with an advisor from the program. The appointments were in 30 minute time slots and the earliest was three weeks out. When it came time for the appointment, the program sounded great. However, the school cost over $50k a year, and I would not hear about any fellowships, assistantships, scholarships, or other funding until June or July, right before I would have left for the program. I couldn’t commit to that sticker price.

School C: Another top ten broadcasting school. Very well respected in the broadcasting field. Two days after I turned in my application, I received a call from the journalism program’s head recruiter. He talked with me for 45 minutes about the program and provided me with not only answers to my various questions, but links to their broadcasts and a connection to a current student with a similar background. Then he put me in touch with the Assistant Dean. She called and talked with me for an additional 45 minutes about the program, and put me in touch with a former student. They invited me to campus and gave me a private tour. They went far out of their way to make me feel confident and comfortable with their program. Plus, this school is known for their focus on innovation, which is important to me as I look towards my career not ten years from now, but forty years from now. Their employment rate six months after graduation is 91%, and they have recruiters for the top broadcasting agencies visit the school twice a year. I learned I was admitted through a personal phone call from the Assistant Dean.

School D: Yet ANOTHER top ten broadcasting school. A no brainer. This school will set you up in your career, pretty much guaranteed. However, with a $50k+ price-tag, I needed scholarships and more information. I called the admissions office to see if I could talk with a professor or advisor about the program. The student in admissions told me that she would answer all questions and that advisors didn’t speak to prospective students. Well… that didn’t fly. They didn’t give me any personal attention because they didn’t need to. Their school is so esteemed that anyone would be elated to attend.

So, Which school did I choose?

Property of Arizona State Sun Devils

Property of Arizona State Sun Devils

School C: Arizona State University!

That’s right, I’ll be a Sun Devil. I’m excited to say I’ll be moving to Phoenix, Arizona in August. The staff at ASU made me feel completely armed with knowledge. I felt confident deciding to attend their university because I was able to ask EVERY question under the sun. Their program is among the very best, and every student I spoke with was happy with their decision to attend. I also knew that if the staff gave this much time and attention to a prospective student, they must give even more to their current students. Not to mention, I actually liked the city of Phoenix and I’m so ready to live in a completely new and different environment. 300 days of sunshine a year will be a far cry from the measly 152 average we get in Seattle.

See you soon, ASU!