Magazine article Parks & Recreation

To What Degree: An Open Discussion about Graduate School

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

To What Degree: An Open Discussion about Graduate School

Article excerpt

MUCH ATTENTION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO THE ACADEMIC SECTOR of the parks and recreation field lately. The benefits, costs, and an array of other issues have generated much chatter through various networks and conversations. While most conversations tend to focus on undergraduate degree options and the updated accreditation standards, it is important to consider the implications this has on graduate programs in the field. For this column, four graduate students in the parks and recreation field eagerly discussed their graduate education. They wanted to open a discussion of their graduate school experience in order to help future students and professionals as they consider a graduate degree in parks and recreation.

How did you decide that you should pursue a graduate degree in parks and recreation?

Pamela Hawkins: My desire to continue my ac ademic career through the leisure program was determined once I spoke with Dr, Deb Jordan [Professor and Department Chair, East Carolina University] at a workshop. Before that discussion I was focused on a PhD in Education; I must admit I am satisfied with my decision of Leisure Studies.

Tatiana Chalkidou: My life-long desire to learn and acquire new skills was the key component in my decision to attend graduate school. I also believed that immersing myself in a new culture would be an eye-opening experience since I was coming from Greece. At that time of my decision, I was working in my family-owned business but it was not enough for me. I could not see myself being in the food and beverage industry for the rest of my life. Pursuing a graduate degree in the United States was the next step to moving forward with my life.

Jody Baker: I came to the decision a bit differently. After working in the recreation industry, I noticed that I was beginning to question some of the ideas and concepts that I learned as an undergraduate. These questions are what ultimately led to me to returning to school for more insight.

Explain any challenges you encountered while pursuing your graduate education that may impact your professional career.

TC: There are great expectations to publish in peer-reviewed journals, yet graduating from a doctoral program does not make you a "writing machine." To me, being a successful and published author requires not only hard work, but talent.

PH: The thought of explaining my degree (Leisure Studies) was unusual. Considering that I never had to explain my Masters in Education; many people thought it was a wonderful degree. I am not saying they really understood a leisure studies degree, either; but I now have a summary as well as a detailed purpose of my degree memorized so that when people ask, I can go through the script.

Michael Bradley: I think the most difficult part for me was looking four years into the future. "Where do I want to be when I graduate?" was a decision that I was not remotely close to answering. I think it is best to seek out a program with a philosophy that is consistent with what you hope to do.

JB: I think many people believe that graduating from a graduate school will magically make them a professional. Not so much. I have found it is not the school work that transitions you from a student to a professional. It is all the other work not on my plan of study that has developed me into a professional, such as research projects, presentations, and working with state and local associations. …

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