So you’ve finally taken the big step towards pursuing your graduate degree in Communications. Congratulations! Welcome to the MCVA family! As a fairly new member myself, I understand how overwhelming starting this crucial step in your academic life can be. From full-time jobs to personal responsibilities, adding grad school on top of our already busy schedules can be daunting. I will say, Pace and the MCVA department have some great tools to help you stay ahead of things. There are also some other outside resources that can assist you in keeping organized. I’m here to offer my tips and tricks that will help you survive your first year of grad school as a Pace Communications student. 


1) Chegg is your best friend.


If you’ve never used Chegg during your undergrad studies, you should definitely utilize this resource. Chegg is a great resource for textbooks, book codes and other educational tools. Since most grad students are living on a budget, you can find some of the cheapest options for textbook or e-textbook rentals here. Chegg even offers a free trial of their textbook solutions trial, which will provide you with even more content for your textbook rental.


2) Memorize that UID.


First-time Pace student? Get the University ID memorized! You will need to use this number consistently throughout your time in the program, especially when dealing with the financial aid office. This number is also important for signing up for classes, scheduling meetings with your advisor, and getting in touch with student accounts.


3) Enter the program with an open mind.


At this point in our lives, most of us feel like we have a pretty good grasp on our communication skills. We’ve most likely been in a workplace environment or have also received prior education that has strengthened these skills. Something I have learned is that you never know as much as you think you do. I’ve only been in the program for a month, and I’ve already learned so much in MCA 602 Writing for Organizations and MCA 601 Industry, Theory and Practice about how to format emails, strategic communication in the workplace, and crafting purposeful memos. You learn more about little details that you may have never thought about before, that will greatly improve your writing and overall communication.


4) Get ahead on assignments.


If you’re like me and are working a full-time job while simultaneously pursuing your master’s degree, trust me when I say that getting ahead on your assignments will make your life 1,000 times easier. This will alleviate any stress regarding deadlines and allow for more flexibility to get your assignments done on your time. I recommend investing in a planner or even something as simple as a to-do list to keep track of all of your assignments and due dates. 


5) Check your Pace email every day.


I get it, we all have busy lives with packed schedules. However, you need to make sure you set aside some time each day to check your school email. This is how most professors will communicate with you (especially if you’re pursuing your degree online). Communications from student accounts, financial aid, and other important information will be sent to this email.

6) Attend any MCVA events that you can.


Being an online student, I miss most of the in-person department events but I’ve heard they are a fun time! This will give you a chance to network with other grad students in your department as well as professors. (Some professors will even give you extra credit for attending!) MCVA events provide an online option for some events where students can join via Zoom.


7) Follow the MCVA social pages.


MCVA is on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter! Follow these accounts to keep up with all that’s going on in the department and to also see what other Communications students are up to. This can be another great way to interact with your peers!


8) Utilize the resources given to you.


The MCVA department provides a great network of peers and professors that can help get you through school. Always ask questions or for help when you need it; there is always someone willing to lend a helping hand. 


9) Talk to your classmates.


Putting yourself out there is one of the most challenging parts of being in school. Getting to know your classmates, however, will be a great way to possibly alleviate some stress. They can help answer your questions, work through problems, or even develop a relationship where you can talk about things outside of class. Balancing school with outside responsibilities is something most, if not all, of your peers will be able to relate to.


10) Begin to take that active listening advice that you learn about.


Trying to maintain focus during class can be very difficult, especially if it is after a long day of work. One of the concepts you will learn a lot about will be active listening where you will learn which will pay off in the long run with helping to stay alert and present during class. 


There’s really no perfect formula for every single person to succeed in grad school, but I hope these tips and tricks can offer you just a little bit of help on your journey – and on that dreaded comprehensive exam. Good luck MCVA grad students!

About the writer:

Kassandra is a first-year graduate student majoring in Communications at Pace University. She is currently looking to pursue a career in either radio or television production. During her time at Pace for undergrad, she was lucky enough to intern and work for great companies like Atlantic Records, RCA Records and SiriusXM. Currently, she is doing contract work for AspireIQ, SiriusXM and a small virtual events company called beedance. Kassandra lives in Brooklyn, NY and loves to travel, attend concerts/sporting events and explore new restaurants throughout the city.