The Succinct Survival Guide To Avoid Going Into Grad School Blind

The Succinct Survival Guide To Avoid Going Into Grad School Blind

A brief survival guide on what to expect when getting your next level degree.


OK so it's senior year, your break year, or you're deciding it's time to go back to school and you want to get a higher level degree. Here are a few pointers that will help prepare you for graduate studies that I had to encounter first hand. I went into grad school blind, but that doesn't mean you necessarily have to.

First and foremost, you're "special" now and by special, you are now part of the crew when it comes to interaction with faculty. You are no longer a student, but now a person trying to get deeper in the field, a colleague if you will. Don't be surprised if your professors start telling you to call them by their names or approach you out of the blue and ask what's up or literally make time to visit with you if you stop by their office. It's like Aladdin when it comes to exchanges with professors: "A whole new world."

Heading in to grad school like... Giphy

Secondly, it's worth mentioning the class size. Remember your senior year when you were waist deep in your field and all of a sudden, your thirty to sixty student classes started becoming anywhere from ten to twenty students and you started seeing the same ones over and over? Yeah well, you were being programmed and trained for grad school and instead of ten to twenty students, you're down to about eight so be prepared.

This, in turn, allows you closer instruction, building a tighter rapport with your instructors, and if this is a different set of people that you worked with for your bachelor's, a greater working relationship. Seeing as you'll be seeing a lot of them more than once during this period, they will learn your strengths and weaknesses all the while training and instructing you to be elevated farther in your field. You'll be close like Ms. Lippy and Billy in "Billy Madison."

Third, the graduate school produces a degree that will help you add dollars to that future salary. However, it's not easy and all sunshine and rainbows. After just going through my first fall in grad school, I can tell you it's double the work, double the effort, and double the time you have to put in. This, in turn, leads to sleepless nights, nights of aggravation, and yes trips that you'll have to make to a professor's office during office hours. Don't be surprised if you have to do this and never did as an undergrad. You're not alone in this regard.

Lastly, graduate school is fun and rewarding. As much as I have worked so far by giving up sleep, being stressed, and sometimes being completely aggravated during assignments, I could not ask for a better position to be in. My fellow students are incredible people that are working as hard as I am, and we are experiencing the same issues. My professors legitimately care about me and treat me as though I'm working with them.

These are great things and ultimately the sacrifices that I am making and have been making will lead to something greater — a master's degree. Keep in mind, I was on a break year with my bachelor's and found out that I needed to come back because there wasn't much out there for me. If you haven't considered grad school, you probably should. The rewards will outweigh the sacrifices and at the end of the day, you'll look back on graduate school with some of the memories of all of this and say, "I'm honestly really glad I did that."

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything

I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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Why Ellena Whitfield Became YouTube's 'EllenaWhat'

A conversation with Ellena Whitfield on the future of YouTube, journalism, and social media.


Ellena Whitfield, popularly known as "EllenaWhat" has taken advantage of the social media revolution with the success of her YouTube channel, which has a following of 65,000 subscribers.

YouTube has become the gateway to success for many young internet influencers as the site became second-most popular in the world as of August 2018.

Whitfield has applied her success online to her schooling at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. With an aspiration to become a Rolling Stone or Alternative Press journalist, Whitfield creates weekly music reviews to her channel.

"I think YouTube is relevant because of the culture our generation expresses. We grew up with the boom of social media and it's our modern-day entertainment on a more personal level. Our parents experienced the same thing through the boom of television. This is why we've started to idolize influencers like they are movie stars," Whitfield said.


Whitfield has met many other young and successful influencers during her time at ASU and the making of her channel. Her cousin, Kendall Rae, a YouTuber with 1 million subscribers inspired her to create her channel.

Whitfield expressed that she would love to become a full-time YouTuber, but there is always the fear that the platform will crash.

"One of the biggest YouTube influencers, Jeffree Star, was making money off of Myspace and then all of a sudden the platform, which seemed revolutionary at the time, crashed and he was forced to live on his friend's couches for a while," Whitfield said.

Even with the fear of YouTube ending, Whitfield said her YouTube channel has given her a platform and the experience she needs to succeed as a journalist. Whitfield said that YouTube not only helped her gain a social relevance, but it gave her experience on how to make relevant and timely content.

Ellena Whitfield Showing Me How She Films Her VideosLauren Hernandez

Human communication professor, Steven Corman emphasizes Whitfield's point on the importance of present-day journalists adopting the social revolution.

"Mainstream media and social media are part of a shared ecosystem. Mainstream media uses social media as a source of information, and social media plays an important role in distributing stories from mainstream media. Journalists need to embrace both if they want to be successful in creating stories and reaching larger audiences with those stories," Corman said.

The most unique aspect of journalism is that it is forever expanding. There are many new platforms and ways of sharing news such as YouTube that allows journalists to spread news faster than ever.


Lexi Varrato, the social media director of ASU's AWSM club strives to evolve with journalism, especially when it comes to the club she helps run as it is one of the most important aspects of journalism to stay relevant.

"Having a social platform as a journalist is crucial because it helps you build your brand and create a presence in an era that is so technologically focused. Not only will you create your image, but it allows you to make connections that will help you further your career," Varrato said.

The rise of young influencers is very inspiring to Whitfield as she says it is realistic to make a career as an influencer. She said that YouTube can lead creators to many different careers such as creating a fashion line or becoming a journalist as she aspires.

Whitfield plans to keep her channel as long as YouTube exists because she loves every aspect of documenting her life and sharing it with her audience. Whitfield expressed that she cannot wait to see where YouTube is in a couple years and believes many college students should give YouTube a try.

"People that have millions of subscribers all started with zero. If you don't start now you're never going to know what could happen," Whitfield said.

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