High Profile Professionals Going Back to School – Online

High Profile Professional News Reporter

Elise (not her real name) is highly visible as a television reporter on the leading station in a major market.  She interviews the governor, state senators, legislators, mayors, and everyday Joes.  She’s been an anchorwoman, and has worked in major U.S. markets and internationally.  Elise has a shelf-full of Emmys to show for her investigative reports.  To the outside world, she appears to have everything in control, and a steady, reliable, and rewarding career.

But she’s seen the writing on the wall.

Last year, as the news industry contracted with the economy, Elise witnessed firsthand devastating cutbacks at her station – nearly 20 people let go due to decreasing ad revenues.  Seasoned reporters, respected photographers, and experienced production staff, gone in the blink of an eye.  “I became very concerned and decided that I needed a Plan B,” she says. 

“While I hope my job lasts, I also need to be prepared for the day when I need to launch a job search.  I want to be ready with up-to-date skills for the digital age.”   She’s studying advanced journalism and digital news delivery, expanding on her already sizeable knowledge of the subject, thus retooling herself and her skill sets.

Elise didn’t start her graduate study online, but quickly made the switch.  “The only way I could get a graduate degree is with an online university.  I began my graduate work at a local college, and it was extremely difficult to fit in the classes after my long workday.  I had to drive half an hour out of my way home every Tuesday night for the class, and it took time away from my family.  Traditional college schedules simply no longer worked with my lifestyle, so I had to find a university that was completely flexible with my lifestyle.” 

She found a well-respected online college that is the distance-learning component to the state university. The masters program began with an introductory class and a weekend residency, but has now gone completely virtual.   Elise checks into the course site to monitor progress, correspond with the instructor, and post her own comments, as well as read her classmates’ posts.  “It’s very much an online classroom, and we’re expected to contribute to the ongoing discussion,” she says.

Elise also comments that the online atmosphere is quite congenial and personal, something you might not expect.  “We email back and forth, and check in on each other’s progress,” she says.  “One fellow student showed me an amazing feature in Microsoft Word that assists with bibliography citations.”  She’s also enjoying the feedback she receives on her own posts, and the camaraderie is very positive and encouraging.

When asked about the difference between traditional classroom learning versus the online learning paradigm, Elise says she’s already comfortable with the technology and delivery system.  She’s using the Internet everyday in her news research, and updating the station’s website regularly, so it’s a natural extension of her job skills.

Elsie has selected to pursue a Masters in Liberal Studies, wherein she’ll design her own course study and be able to tap into selected course offerings from other participating online colleges.  She will create a unique program that caters directly to her interests.  Not incidentally, Elise appreciates the very reasonable cost of her graduate education, at $349 per credit.

Looking to the future, Elise says she hopes to continue on television for years, but is preparing herself for a changing world.  “I feel that I almost have no choice, that having a graduate degree will increase my employment prospects 10-fold.  I’m feeling very empowered because I’m advancing my skills.”

Featured Schools