From the first day you step into high school, college is framed as the next stage, a natural step—a fundamental progression in your education. College is where the individual student ascends into adulthood, aspires to greater things, and ascertains a greater realization and lifelong direction. Four years later, you attain a degree and are thrust into reality—seeking gainful employment and a career greater than a mere job.
If this is the goal of college, then what of graduate school?
For many, graduate school represents a greater specialization—a higher degree of concentration in a given field and the pursuit of significant research and study. An undergraduate degree is touted as the logical step from a simple high school degree. A graduate degree—a masters in a specific field—must be greater than this. A master’s degree, earned after two years of strenuous effort, commitment, and dedication to knowledge is greater than a mere step. It is more than a piece of paper—a framed display on your bedroom wall—it is what you learned. It is the abstract comprehension of advanced concepts and theories. It is intrinsic advancement past the necessary and towards the willfully earned.
Upon my arrival at San Jose State University in the fall of 2014, I was immediately immersed in a greater standard for education. Day one was an apt descriptor for the following two years, asking one simple question—what do you want to do with this degree? There were no liberal arts classes and no classes taken for the pursuit of a general education. This master’s program at San Jose State University had one goal in mind: to better equip yourself with the tools and knowledge necessary to achieve your career and life goals.
Starting on day one, my pursuit towards this goal began.
My goals were simple—to not only become a Division I track and field coach, but to pursue a new medium for track and field education and a desire to provide the best knowledge and education for my future athletes and other coaches across the country. With this fundamental concept in mind, I took on each class with an ultimate goal of moving the proverbial arrow towards this finish. Although each individual class may not have been perfectly tailored towards this concept, it was my goal as a student to learn, absorb, and gain the necessary tools.
Throughout my two year stint, I took semester courses on research design and theory, media law and ethics, interactive project creation and management, and basic communication management. Each course served a different purpose, some greater than others, but each course aided me with specific tools necessary for reaching my goals.
Two courses in particular, MCOM 284—Project Management and MCOM 290—Theory of Mass Communication, best helped in my pursuit.
Project Management is a sequential course to the initial MCOM 285—New Media Technology course. In New Media Technology, we were instructed in interactive design, digital media, and digital creation. We utilized a multitude of Adobe products such as InDesign, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro. For a full semester, we learned how to take a simple concept, even textual content, and move it into a digital frontier. We learned how to take still photos and text and transform them into a creative interface and platform. We utilized HTML and CSS to create and gain a deeper insight into website design. Although schemed often basic and simplistic in nature, this course gave myself and each student basic tools to use throughout the semester. Project Management, the next step in the curriculum, provided the foundation and guidance for properly using these tools.
A semester in Project Management saw the guided instruction and support for the creation of my personal website and digital portfolio. This website, a resource for the education of track and field coaches, may be considered the culmination of my master’s experience at San Jose State University. Throughout the semester, we discussed, argued, and theorized ways to make this website better—for myself and my target audience. I ultimately created a succinct, minimalistic, and clean website which is easily accessible and interactive in nature. Through the guidance of course instructor Professor Richard Craig, I was able to take a simple and fundamental idea and transform it into a personal tool and a resource for my future career pursuits.
Theory of Mass Communication can be easily viewed as a divergence from Project Management and New Media Technology. There was no interactive element, no design qualities, and no digital components. What we accomplished in this class however, may be considered even more important than tangible creations. In Mass Communication Research, we gained the insight into content creation and more importantly, how to find what we needed to find and where to look.
The internet is an immense space, one populated by millions of websites, articles, and databases. The question is not always where to look or how to look, but increasingly—what to look for. Taught by Professor Diana Stover, Theory of Mass Communication was a semester course dedicated towards the creation of an in-depth, complete, and resourceful literature review. Completed in my first semester at San Jose State University, this literature review was vital for the eventual creation and implementation of my personal website. Completing a google search is easy—a few strokes of the keyboard and you can find the answer to nearly any question or problem. Finding a specific article, a topic of research, or a field of study may not be. Throughout this course, we spend numerous hours honing in on research particulars, singular topics of study, and analyzing in-depth studies for salience and topic accomplishment.
My time at San Jose State University has been thought provoking and energetic. I spent innumerable hours working closely with advisers and professors learning, researching, and striving to accomplish a final goal of creating a personally tailored website and attaining my masters in mass communication. Each day served to open my eyes to different fields of study and an indefinite grasp of digital media and application.
Could these goals have been accomplished without this degree? Possibly. What is certain however, is that my accomplishments at San Jose State University were directly due to direct guidance, support, and the advocating of a multitude of professors. An undergraduate degree may be deemed a necessity, but a master’s degree—from the first day to the last—is more than that, it was my natural progress towards my future and a continued effort towards success as a coach.