Rutgers Frame of Mind

Going back to graduate school was not an easy decision for Pallavi Guha. She had already spent six years on three different continents working as a journalist. For the last two years, she has been living in New Jersey with her husband and began raising an infant daughter.

Contemplating further study in communications, this busy mother considered her needs and researched her options. Below, she tells how she pictured herself at Rutgers.

Big step forward

Though I had a master’s degree in international relations and worked as a journalist for BBC News in London, the Times of India in India, and Helium in United States, I still felt a need to study journalism. I had practical skills but wanted to learn the principles that guide journalism and communication. My daily schedule was demanding and hectic; I was juggling a part-time job with caring for my 1-year-old daughter. But the desire to go back to grad school kept nudging me.

I started exploring the communication programs of graduate schools in the New York area. I wanted a rolling admission so I wouldn’t have to be constrained by the deadlines. I needed a flexible schedule of afternoon or early evening classes to help balance my child care and work obligations. My search led me to the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers. The school offers a master of communication and information studies and had all I was looking for: a great curriculum, rolling admissions, flexible class schedules, even online classes, plus the campus was close to home.

Jugglers’ paradise

Even after I had found the program, I was hesitant to take the plunge. Finances were tight and I worried I was too old to go back to school. My parents and my husband suggested that I look up the profiles of the current students in the master's program. I found most of the profiled students to be highly experienced professionals, managing families while taking courses.

If they could juggle work, family, and grad school, I could do it, too. I felt encouraged and took one more step just to be sure. I wrote to the program director, Laurie Lewis, who put me in touch with a student in the program who shared her perspective on the courses she was taking. That personal touch coupled with all the other program attributes sold me on Rutgers. I didn’t even apply anywhere else.

I was accepted four weeks later and began study in fall 2011. My financial concerns still remain. Paying in-state tuition, I've been able to afford tuition this semester but I am looking for a scholarship or assistance program to help make things work for next semester.

Ecstatic learner

Since my first class in September, I have learned new facets of communication and journalism. In my “Digital Media Innovation” course, for example, I realized how technology is remodeling journalism.

In addition, we have a great mix of experience, perspective, and age in our class. I definitely feel the faculty and school are ready to guide me and help me grow in my career. I am happy and excited to be a part of the Rutgers family.

June 2012 update: Pallavi recently received a faculty recognition award and School of Communication and Information scholarship. She hopes to complete her studies by December 2012.