OPINION: Would I go to Graduate School Again? That’s a Big Question


Audrey Korte

Graduate School isn’t easy but there are some amazing moments in the chaos.


Graduate school has been challenging. I expected it to be. But graduate school in a pandemic? Well, it’s not exactly what I signed up for. Regardless, I’ve learned a lot. 

I’d do it again. I think. 

Let’s just say I am almost convinced it was worth it. 


Why I Went to Graduate School

I’ve given this subject a lot of thought lately. I’ve been asked several times — ‘why did you go to grad school?’

Some people go because they want a future in academia. Some people want to investigate things; they like research. Some people believe it will increase their pay or advance their careers. 

For me, it was pretty simple. I wanted to do more. I hadn’t gained all the skills in my undergraduate years that I thought journalism required. 

I had just started to learn how to produce audio. I had just started to find my reporting voice and figure out what got me excited and what I was good at. 

I knew that I could probably get a job at a small town newspaper somewhere, and that’s good. It’s far ahead of where I was when I arrived in Wichita in 2016. But it’s not where I wanted to be.

The biggest thing was that I didn’t feel like I could walk into any newsroom in any city and make my case for why I should get a job there. And that bothered me. I had done some work I was proud of. But I hadn’t figured out how to incorporate history, research, the local community, and reporting on solutions to systemic problems in one article or project. I wanted the chance to do that. 

So I stayed at WSU for the M.A. program in communication.


The Good, The Hard and The Ugly

Education has always been vital in my family. I’ve lived on various school campuses, watched both parents get Master’s degrees, and one get her Doctorate. I was surrounded by people at a young age who were doggedly pursuing advanced degrees or trying to get studies published and funded. So this world isn’t new to me. 

While some would assume that this made things easier, I actually think it’s made things harder. For one thing, I’ve never felt good enough. Another issue is that I have been painfully aware of the flaws of academia and institutions for decades. I’ve seen things go sideways, repeatedly. 

Not every graduate student teaches. But I do. It’s been an incredible opportunity to get my degree paid for. It is definitely a ton of responsibility and hard work, and I struggled substantially to balance everything. 

Being a graduate teaching assistant has been challenging but I do love my students. I like helping them get to their own respective finish lines.

The people in my GTA group have had some added pressure of re-learning how to teach online during the pandemic with only one year of teaching experience under our belts. Everything we did in year one was turned on its head in year two. We even had to learn to teach a new book in addition to learning how to teach online. 

All the GTA’s have other jobs, and sometimes it’s too much. 

The number of all-nighters I pulled last year hit a fever pitch as I received a fellowship to Africa and was planning that journey and diplomatic “mission” while producing The Sunflower News Podcast and teaching and going to school full time. It was brutal. But I am inching towards the finish line; I know it’s almost over. 

There isn’t an educator out there who had an easy year, but GTA’s are paid far less than faculty members for our teaching. GTA programs across the nation need an overhaul, especially when it comes to pay and support for those who are struggling. 

But WSU’s Elliott School of Communication doesn’t do anything wrong here as far as I can see. I want to be clear about that. 

I’ve felt incredibly supported throughout my graduate education and graduate teaching career. People at WSU bent over backward to accommodate me and help me, especially when I contracted COVID-19. 

I have no complaints here.


Saving the Best For Last

I am very excited about the graduate project I am working on. It is the perfect opportunity to showcase what I’ve learned, use the connections I started building as an undergrad, to use multiple mediums, and do a combination of hefty research on local history and current events. 

It’s not easy, of course. This project has no blueprint, so I’ve been creating one throughout the year. It’s meant participating in many journalism and research trainings to make sure I can pull this off. 

And it’s precisely what I want to be doing. 

That’s one place where graduate school shines. You actually get to go deep into the areas in which you are interested. For some, it’s overwhelming. For me, it’s been a joy. The hardest thing is reigning myself in and remembering — it’s not a dissertation. Literally, it’s an M.A., so not everything has to be 10,000 words with 900 sources. 

I don’t shy away from hard things. I like puzzles. I like finding answers and asking thought-provoking questions. I like putting something out into the world that might help people and make them think. And I am good at thinking on my feet. 

If you feel you have these skills, I’d recommend thinking about graduate school. 

The people in my program have done everything but stand on their heads to get me this far. I haven’t had to stand on my head either, but you never know. I don’t finish until August — there’s still time. It wouldn’t surprise me if they asked me to.  

As for whether or not I’d do it again? 

Well, I’d say I’m 91.7% sure I would.