Grad school in the recession? My experience

I have come across two interesting pieces that take entirely different perspectives about the question of whether to go to graduate school during the recession. The first is a blog entry by Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist, that says going to graduate school is not a smart way to dodge the recession because it saddles students with debt, immobility, and anxiety.

The second piece is a response from my favorite advice columnist, Cary Tennis, who advises a torn letter writer to go to graduate school and pursue his dreams instead of join the military and be useful. (One respondent humorously says, “Grad school has far more crazies than the military.”)

I am sympathetic to both Trunk’s and Tennis’s instincts, and I think maybe I can help, just a little, the torn graduate school applicant by offering some insight about my own experience in the M.S. program at Columbia School of Journalism. Please don’t take what I say as the gospel.

Sometimes I think that I may have jumped the gun and went to journalism school a little too soon, before I tried to pursue it on my own, but then I remember where I was last year: I knew I wanted to write for a career, but I didn’t know what or how, and I figured j-school would help me figure it out. At the time, I wasn’t even married to the idea of being a reporter.

I have gotten a much better sense of the type of reporting I like at Columbia. If I had forced myself to go to a daily in a part of the country or world that I wasn’t even that passionate about, I probably would not have found this. Instead, I would have been doing what I felt I was supposed to do to be successful in journalism, when I wasn’t even sure that is what I wanted.

That said, I have found that graduate school is not the best place to solve career and life uncertainty. I have had to really develop a strong sense of identity to fight against the stress and institutionalism that I can sometimes let get to me, and it is something that I may have done better had I given myself some time to just putz around or travel. Read more of this post

O’Reilly challenges Columbia j-school’s reputation. We’re through.

To think that the Columbia Journalism Review, a magazine that has been sitting in my mailbox in the basement of the journalism school gathering dust, could provoke such a thorough condemnation of the school from Bill O’Reilly is pretty ridiculous.  Columbia “used to be the best j-school in the country, but it has become a hotbed of liberal activism these days,” O’Reilly said on his show last week as he began ripping into an article from CJR.  Never mind that the students at the j-school do not write for CJR.

Even more ridiculous, O’Reilly has one of his minions follow the editor of CJR, Mike Hoyt, onto his bus in New Jersey to hound him about why he had someone from the magazine the Nation write for CJR, after Hoyt earlier told the Factor he did not have time to prepare to appear on the show that week. The outrage of the whole segment seems forced and phoned in. I think it is just O’Reilly’s attempt to promote his alma mater, Boston University.

By the way, even more ridiculous, O’Reilly follows that by giving a scolding to the paparazzi for hounding Miley Cyrus.  Jon Stewart did a brilliant send-up of the whole thing last night.


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