What I learned from getting my master’s degree

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 11.50.53 PM

About four years ago, I initially broached the idea of going after a master’s degree.

At the time I was working as an adjunct professor at Manhattanville College, and truly enjoying it. There was just something blissful in helping aspiring writers find their voices, and I liked the idea of, perhaps one day, doing so full time (while simultaneously writing books). Regrettably, the majority of college journalism programs require full-time faculty to have tons of experience and at least a master’s, if not a PhD.

So I looked at different schools before deciding upon the digital journalism program at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg. Why? Well …

A. It was online, and I could do it from home.

B. It was new and seemed exciting.

C. I was sorta lazy and went with one of the first options I found.

Anyhow, it’s now 2016, and I’m done. It took about 2 1/2 years, but I have my master’s, and I’m here to say, well, um, eh, ah …

That sucked.

I mean, it really, really sucked. I moped and whined and complained my way through 95 percent of the program. I didn’t enjoy my classes, didn’t much enjoy my professors, considered it a big waste of money. In truth, had someone said, “You just pay us the dough and we’ll give you the diploma,” temptation might have won.

For the longest time, I blamed USF. The program is disorganized. The teachers don’t have my experience. I’m learning stuff I know. Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah. But then, when everything was finished and I had no remaining classes, I looked in the mirror and came to a harsh conclusion: This was 100-percent on me.

I was here to snag a degree, not to learn. I picked a program that wasn’t ideal for someone who’d spent two decades in journalism. I half-assed a bunch of the courses, and probably purchased, oh, three of 30 required textbooks. I waited for the last minute to finish my assignments, and I often used the old trick of writing around my lack of knowledge and interest. On a few occasions I took to Twitter to express my frustrations, citing the school on my social media platforms.

In short, I sucked.

Now I have my degree, and I’m happy it’s over. But I don’t feel vindicated or rewarded.

I feel like I missed an opportunity.

5 thoughts on “What I learned from getting my master’s degree”

  1. I’ve got to ask (He opened the door, your Honor!) how much did this cost? I really don’t expect an answer, but when I look at your actions, your motivation, and your results, how in hell could it have been worth it? How valuable can a masters degree form USFla-StPete be?

  2. Alexandra Christy

    I did the same program as Jeff, and I had the experience he wishes he’d had. I made the most of it and I made it work for me. The reason I’m adding my voice here, though, is not to be snarky. It’s to say that having Jeff in a few of my classes was a highlight for me. He was funny, smart, insightful and helped get me through some weeks when I myself was whining. AND, you can see by his Book Whore film, he learned a lot, and we’re all the better for it.

  3. Of course. All that is why after you were (not always) true to form in Digital Media Law & Ethics you were the perfect guy to talk to my undergraduate Senior Seminar capstone course. Undergrads are no different and I felt the same when I received my BA in English many years ago and when I abandoned legacy journalism for law practice/teaching. I <3 the First Amendment.

Leave a Reply