A Progressive Student's Perspective

Samantha Rothschild, MCM Candidate, Class of 2016

When I walked into the old Annenberg auditorium for my first graduate class, I felt I had an upper hand. As a progressive degree student – a senior in undergrad but a first-year in grad school – I’d been in the room dozens of times over the course of three years. In fact, I’d just been in the classroom a few hours earlier for one of my undergrad classes. It felt familiar until other students filled the room. I didn’t recognize faces anymore. People were older and dressed up for work in suits or nice blouses whereas I wore a USC sweatshirt, jeans, and flip-flops. As time went on, more people came in wearing casual clothes so I didn’t stand out anymore. The room looked pretty much the same, with just some fancy outfits. In fact, it felt a lot like freshman year in the dining hall. It wasn’t weird to introduce yourself to whoever was sitting by you since everyone was in the same boat and wanted to make new friends. I was worried that the students who were older and working full-time would be “over” college and not socialize with the rest of the class, but they proved me wrong as well. The atmosphere felt collaborative and inclusive rather than competitive and divided. Being a progressive student never held me back. No one treated me differently and having less real-world work experience did not effect my ability to work with others. So by the end of the first semester, I had almost forgotten my unique class standing.

Besides the initial variation in clothing choices, the only other time I felt a large difference being a progressive student was in Professor Craig’s CMGT 586 class that I am currently taking this semester. We did Prezi presentations about ourselves in the beginning of the semester as a fun icebreaker. I felt a bit intimidated when everyone spoke about past jobs they had held and where they are working now. I haven’t even completed my undergraduate degree yet. However, by the end of my presentation, my classmates were still impressed. I may not have had a full-time job yet, but I certainly have made the most of my undergraduate career. Everyone has something unique that he or she can bring to the table. Our differences in experience are what make us learn from each other. It’s never too late or too early to go after what you want, and in this case, I’m happy I chose to do the progressive degree program instead of waiting another year. Being younger hasn’t held me back. If anything, it has made me work harder to prove that I can handle being a graduate student.