“If I could go back to college, I would try to figure out what I wanted to study sooner as an undergraduate.”

Meredith Boe is studying to earn her Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing. She is a first year student at DePaul University. Meredith previously earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from University of Oklahoma in 2010.

Meredith chose to pursue a masters degree in writing and publishing because she wanted to increase her career options. After getting her degree, she hopes to a find a job in publishing, writing or copy editing, with the ultimate goal of publishing her own writing.

In your own words, what is writing and publishing?

The field of writing and publishing focuses on creating nonfiction and fiction stories as well as poetry. In addition, it covers publishing, which includes activities like editing and collaborating with the necessary professionals to publish creative works.

Why did you choose to get a masters degree in writing and publishing?

I chose to get a masters degree in writing and publishing from DePaul University because I wasn’t ready to be done with school. In fact, school is where I produce my best writing because I am surrounded by professors that work in the field.

In addition, I feel as though grad school gives me a better chance of getting a job. The publishing component of my program will increase my marketability because there are a lot more publishing jobs than there are writing jobs.

When you first considered pursuing a masters degree in writing and publishing, what were your expectations?

When I first considered pursuing a masters degree in writing and publishing, I expected the program to be similar to a bachelors program in English. I assumed that I would be writing and developing ideas based on literature.

Now that I have been in the program for a semester, I am surprised at the quality of the professors. They are all published writers and some of them even teach at other universities as well, which has definitely impressed me.

What do you find most and least enjoyable about studying writing and publishing?

The most enjoyable aspect of studying writing and publishing is working on my craft and gaining more writing experience. I also like the fact that I receive feedback from other students and professors on my writing.

The least enjoyable part is having to write on a deadline. It can be difficult to write creatively under pressure, so my writing can sometimes seem too forced.

How did you choose your graduate school?

I chose to attend DePaul University becaue it offered a rare program that encompassed both writing and publishing. There are very few schools that have a combined program. I also felt that the publishing component of the program would allow me to do more with my degree besides teaching.

In addition, I wanted to attend DePaul University because it is located in Chicago, which is one of the top publishing cities. This was enough to make me want to move to Chicago for graduate school.

What is your program’s curriculum like?

My program’s curriculum is pretty flexible and open. In order to graduate, I need to complete 48 credits, but I can pick and choose my classes each semester. I really don’t have any required classes. Examples of classes I can take are fundamental English, book publishing, digital publishing and style. There are also writing workshops that involve writing assignments, class discussions and receiving feedback from classmates. In addition to taking classes, I have to complete a mandatory internship during my second year.

In terms of grading, I am assessed on the quality of my writing and my level of participation in class discussions. I don’t anticipate having to read many textbooks or take many exams.

What parts of your curriculum or particular classes do you think will be most valuable for your future goals?

I think my publishing classes, such as my digital publishing class, will be most valuable for my future goals. It is important to know the editing and publishing side of writing because that is where most of the jobs are.

In fact, the professor for my digital publishing class actually wrote and edited for a print and online magazine, so he was aware of all the publishing trends such as the emphasis on online publishing in the future. He was helpful in giving me insight into the job market.

What personality traits do you think would help a student to succeed in a writing and publishing program and what traits would hinder success?

In order to succeed in a writing and publishing program, students need to be open-minded in order to receive feedback from professors and students on their writing. Students also need to be outgoing. This is important in being able to stay active in class discussions.

However, if students are lazy, they will struggle in a writing and publishing program. They need to have the motivation to attend class and stay on top of coursework.

What is your thesis topic?

My writing and publishing program at DePaul University does not require me to complete a thesis. Instead, I have the option to carry out an independent study with a professor and then pick a topic and write a thesis. The advantage of completing a thesis is gaining research experience, which might come in handy when applying for jobs or PhD programs.

Do you have an advisor, and if so, how does your advisor support your academic progress?

No, I do not have an advisor. At DePaul University, students are not required to meet with an advisor. If I ever need help with anything, I utilize my professors or program directors.

What is your weekly schedule?

During a typical week, I usually spend 6 hours in class, as well as 10 to 12 hours studying, reading and writing. I also work part time on campus as a receptionist at the theatre department. I don’t have much free time.

How do you balance your studies and your personal life?

I balance my studies and personal life by giving myself time to relax. Every now and then, I take a break from studying or allow myself a night off. I also try to multi-task. For example, I sometimes do homework while I am working at my job.

What are your plans for after graduation?

After graduation, I hope to secure a publishing, writing or copy editing job. I would also like to try to work on publishing some of my writing.

Now that you have completed 1 semester of your writing and publishing graduate program, if you could go back to college, what would you do differently?

If I could go back to college, I would try to figure out what I wanted to study sooner as an undergraduate. Because I did not know what I wanted to do, it took me an extra year to graduate. But in a way, I needed that time to figure out my major.

What advice do you have for students who are considering a masters degree in writing and publishing?

I would advise a prospective masters student in writing and publishing to make sure that they submit their best writing samples when applying to grad school. For example, if students are good at fiction writing, they should submit their best short story. Writing samples are the single most important factor in being accepted into a masters program.

I would also encourage students to take advantage of their professors during their undergrad. A lot of my professors were also writers, so I learned a lot from them. Also, making connections with professors can be helpful when it is time to ask faculty for letters of recommendation.

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