A Difficult Transition to Graduate School

A Difficult Transition to Graduate School

Newhouse on a sunny day.
The outside of Newhouse on a sunny day during summer classes. Even though class was from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, there were times we got to head outside for assignments.

On a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon in the middle of June, I arrived at my new apartment in Syracuse. I couldn’t have been more excited to finally move away from my home in Massachusetts and start a new chapter as a graduate student at the Newhouse School.

As I got out of my car and walked towards my new home, my parents walked with me to check out my new apartment. I had four roommates but was the first one to arrive. As I opened the door, I looked around and knew that I was in the right place.  I was scared, excited, and everything in between.

My parents and I started to unpack the two cars filled with my belongings. After a long four-hour drive, I still felt as though I had all the energy in the world. Together, the three of us emptied boxes and before I knew it, my life was spread across an unfamiliar place.

The next day, my parents left, and I was alone. I busied myself with more unpacking and reruns of Gilmore Girls. My roommates moved in later in the week and I felt more at home and comfortable.

Fast forward to the second week of summer classes, I had my first breakdown. Being in the Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism program, I had to take a writing and reporting class and I had to pitch an idea of something newsworthy that I could cover. Here I was with a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising and I had no idea what I was doing.  I didn’t know what a pitch was or how to do it.

When I pitched my first three ideas, and all got declined, I immediately felt defeated. My professor was harsh. I’m a very quiet and reserved person and I felt like the dumbest person in the room as I didn’t know what I was doing.

I left the classroom and cried in the bathroom. Yes, I cried. I felt like I had been made a fool of and I wanted out. I quickly pulled myself together as there were still three hours left of class, but when I got home, I cried more. For the first time since I moved to Syracuse, I felt alone, lost and in the wrong place. I didn’t call my parents, anyone in my family or friends. I shut out the world and went on as if nothing happened.

Throughout the summer, I faced many breakdowns. I even contemplated dropping out. Classes picked up and life went on. I continued to feel like I wasn’t in the right place, I wasn’t making genuine friends and I missed my family. When summer classes ended, I had serious thoughts of packing up my car and never returning. But then I thought, I’m one of 23 students in this program who got chosen to be here. I have every right to be here and there is a reason I’m here.

I went home for the two week break before fall classes started and I relaxed as much as possible. I brought myself back to reality and remembered how much I wanted to be a journalist or something in the field of journalism. This had been my dream for several years. I wasn’t going to let my feelings, or the harshness of professors and classmates, determine my fate.

When the fall semester started, I went in with a goal. Stay true to yourself, don’t back down and remember you are at Newhouse for a reason.

Fast forward again to week seven of the fall semester and I’m striving to the best of my ability. With a great support system of friends and family, near and far, I know that this one year will go by fast and I have to make the best of every situation.

My professor Stephen Masiclat once said to my class, “you don’t go to school for shit you know.” That’s something I keep with me every time I feel as though someone is rubbing their prior journalism experience in my face.

My journey through the first few months at Newhouse have been hectic, but I’m grateful for the experience and excited for the future.

Four MNO students.
Three friends and I enjoy a Saturday afternoon in the summer at Owera Vineyards. Taking time for yourself is very important. From left to right: myself, Ellie Coggins, Weng Cheong and Rebecca Gutierrez.


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Colton Madore
Colton Madore is a graduate student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and studying Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism. When he is done at Syracuse University, he hopes he will be a creative director or social media director for a magazine. Follow him on Twitter to get updates on his journey through graduate school! @colton_madore