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Will my past political work experience help or hurt my chances? And should I even apply?


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Is it worth going to journalism grad school? This is a question I ask myself almost on a daily basis.

A little background: Growing up I wanted to be a journalist. I was the editor of my middle school newspaper and feature editor of my high school newspaper. But when deciding what to study in school, my journalism teacher encouraged me to apply for a Poli Sci degree because of the uncertainties of the field (this was back in 05). I took his advice and so far I've had a fairly successful career. I worked in congress, on political campaigns, and for the last 5 years or so I have worked in digital advocacy, mainly as a copywriter drafting email campaigns, blogs, web and social copy for major nonprofits, advocacy groups and politicians. I have a few connections in the journalism field already and once worked in a news room. I also have a 3.3 GPA (3.5 major) and a few publications under my belt, but they are all very old. I haven't decided if I will use those for my writing samples, or if I'll use something unpublished that is more recent. I am mostly interested in applying to schools in the NYC area where I currently reside. I also intend to only apply to schools that don't require the GRE as I do not have the time to spend studying for it (that means NYU is out and Columbia and CUNY are in). 

I love writing and politics, but I don't quite like the style of writing I do. At the end of the day, I much prefer to write in a more journalistic style. But sometimes I worry if my political experience would hurt my chances of becoming a journalist, or if they would help. I clearly can't claim I am not biased as I have a strong past working for Democrats and progressive causes. 

 And then I continually ask myself, is it even worth going to journalism grad school at all?

There's no doubt in my mind that I need to go to journalism school to make it in the field. My writing, while good, could be better. I really want to go to journalism school to improve my writing and also to make connections in the field. But when I do the math, it will cost me about $100K for a degree. On my current career path, I can expect to make close to 80K within 5 years. I know that's how much some editors make at major publications, and I can't assume I'll even be that successful. I recently inherited close to $100K and I'm wondering if I should spend this money going to grad school, even if my next career path won't necessarily make me more money (it could even make me less)? It's tempting, but so is buying a house or traveling the world. Thoughts on what I should do?


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