The Student News Site of Chatham University

Communiqué

The Student News Site of Chatham University

Communiqué

The Student News Site of Chatham University

Communiqué

Pauses to some Chatham University graduate programs prompt students to rethink their future

Jorie+Meil+in+front+of+the+cougar+statue+in+fall+2020.
Jorie mei
Jorie Meil in front of the cougar statue in fall 2020.

It was about a month before classes began when I got an email from Chatham University’s Office of Admissions. Why were they emailing me?

I was a few months out from finishing my undergraduate studies and had already started taking classes as part of my Integrated Degree Program (IDP) in communication. Amid all of the chaos surrounding the deficit and reorganization, I knew it couldn’t be good. My heart stopped as I read the subject: Notice of Communications (MA) Program Pause for Fall 2023.

I was thanked for my application, but informed that enrollment for the masters of communication had been paused. I had already been accepted to the program, paid my deposit and begun taking graduate-level classes to get ahead, so I was left confused. I had been banking on doing my IDP since before I graduated high school in 2020; it was the basis of my entire five-year plan. 

The email read, “While we understand this is inconvenient and may pose challenges to your educational plans, the University implemented this decision as we do not want your educational investment and experience to be diminished in any way.” 

The wording to me seemed to be offensively dismissive; the University put my future “on pause” a month before the term with the equivalent of a polite smile.

I emailed my academic adviser in a panic only to be met with the harsh reality that she also didn’t know what was going on. She was not informed that the decision about the program had been made and was completely unaware that the University were telling students. 

Excluding my capstone, all of the classes I had enrolled in for the fall term were graduate classes, and they were the ones being canceled.

Because of the last-minute announcement, classes were mostly filled up at that point, so I was forced to pick the best-sounding classes with the most open seats, causing me to be disengaged in the academic career I deeply value. 

Doing the IDP at Chatham meant getting out into the workforce quickly and earning my graduate degree in one additional year instead of two or more. When I found out about the pause, I began looking through course requirements for other universities in Pittsburgh and saw the next two years flash before my eyes in a dark blur of boring communication theory classes that would do nothing to further my career aspirations.

And I’m not just paying the metaphorical price of Chatham’s decision. One of the most attractive parts of the IDP is the cost of tuition compared to doing a stand-alone program at Chatham or another school. When I had to start looking into different programs, I got a harsh reality check to the tune of $30,000 more than what I would’ve been paying.

Leaving Chatham earlier than I planned also means losing my on-campus job. In an attempt to make money and escape the boredom of my dorm room and Zoom classes during my first year, I began working as a Broadcast Studio assistant. In the last three years, I have grown incredibly fond of my position, coworkers and supervisors at the Broadcast Studio and was planning to continue to work there while I completed my graduate degree. While my student employment paychecks are not my main source of income, it helped to keep the rent paid and the ramen flowing while getting through school.

The decisions made by the administration were professionally, financially, academically and personally hurtful to me – and I’m sure I’m not the only student who feels this way.

The University stated in the email sent to me and fellow affected students, “Chatham is conducting a comprehensive academic review of all academic programs, which may lead to program modifications or other changes in the future.”

Since getting to Chatham, I have been involved in academic and extracurricular activities across campus and have done my best to be an active part of the Chatham community. While I didn’t expect a personalized email from President Rhonda Phillips herself, I do feel entitled to a sympathetic explanation of why they are destroying my five-year plan.

The stress brought into my life by the careless decisions made by the University has forced me to reexamine my priorities. I’ve decided to take some time to figure out my new goals and work full-time starting in January after I graduate from Chatham.

I don’t regret any of my time while here at Chatham, and I’m truly saddened that it is being cut short. Everyone is telling me that this might be a blessing in disguise, but more than anything I wish that I could stay here with the professors and friends that I’ve grown so fond of.

 

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About the Contributor
Jorie Meil, Digital and Social Media Editor
Jorie Meil ’24 is a communications major with a concentration in public relations and minors in marketing and Jewish studies. Coming from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Jorie came to Chatham for the academic programs and location. Jorie is the Communique digital editor and a contributing writer. At Chatham, Jorie is an executive board member of the Jewish Student Association and Chatham Student Power. To learn more about her work, feel free to contact Jorie via email at [email protected].

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