Why I Chose Muhlenberg College School of Graduate Studies: One Student’s Perspective
By: By Laura Bruaw, Master’s of Applied Analytics Program, Class of 2022 Friday, June 25, 2021 08:00 AM
When I interned at PPL Electric Utilities one summer during my undergraduate studies, I lived in the apartments on campus at Muhlenberg College. Little did I know that, just a few years later, I’d be pursuing my Master’s of Applied Analytics degree at the Muhlenberg College School of Graduate Studies.
I had earned my bachelor’s degree in Information and Technology Management from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in 2019 and started my career as information technology (IT) product analyst for PPL. My last few courses at Bloomsburg gave me a taste of data science and analytics, and I enjoyed the idea of using data and numbers to solve problems and make the world a better place.
So, I began looking at master’s degree programs. There were many online options. But I wanted something in-person. I longed to find a program that allowed me to make real connections with other students and my professors—a place where everyone could learn from each other. That’s why I chose Muhlenberg. And even though the COVID-19 pandemic moved classes online just as I started graduate school in August 2020, I’ve been able to cultivate those deep learning relationships.
Building a high-quality student experience
There are many ways colleges can host online learning. It’s easy for professors in other programs to just record a lecture, ask students to read a chapter and then ask you to take a test. It’s not that way at Muhlenberg. Since the pandemic, they’ve focused on synchronous learning, which means students and professors are online at the same time, talking face-to-face, answering questions and bouncing ideas off one another.
To make it happen, Muhlenberg gave us access to leading-edge technology. We’ve learned through Zoom and we use Amazon Appstream as our virtual desktop. That allows us to use data visualization tools like Tableau just like if we were in the computer lab on campus.
In the Applied Analytics program, students work in cohorts. My cohort of nine students will stay together for our entire two years of study. We’ve carved out a set time and day—Thursday nights—to talk and network virtually.
We’ve become a close-knit group fairly quickly. Our Thursday night talks allow me to get answers from people I know and trust. It helps me learn why others have chosen Applied Analytics and to see how data shapes not just my personal area of interest (environmental sustainability) but how data also impacts things important to other students, from public health and sports to videogames. Having a set schedule also helps me balance my education and work life better.
Relying on Muhlenberg College staff and resources
So far, my professors and classes have been excellent. From statistics to data warehousing, data mining and business intelligence, each class has delivered everything it has promised. My professors infuse a lot of real-life business examples into their courses, and I’ve felt like I’ve learned something from every class I’ve taken.
Beyond the classroom experience, I’ve met some great people. My academic advisor, Michael Miller, Ed.D., is fantastic. We check in fairly regularly. I can ask him general or program-specific questions, and he always finds an answer. I’ve also been impressed by Samantha Hof and Patrick Flogged at The Career Center. They reach out to students with job and internship opportunities all the time. They even hosted a “Hiring Hacks” session that brought in professionals from the field and gave us tips on applying for jobs and overall professionalism.
Finding a graduate school that reflects my values
One of the more important influences on my choice of a graduate school was finding a program that spoke to things which mattered most to me. Diversity and inclusion are particularly important to me, and Muhlenberg College’s focus on these two areas is very prevalent. They don’t just talk about diversity on their website; they’re committed to it.
I’ve seen that commitment from student organizations and faculty all the way up to the president, Kathleen Harring. Whenever there are significant cultural events—such as recent nationwide and worldwide violence against Asians and African Americans, Muhlenberg is responsive. They focus on giving people and students across all communities a voice.
So far, I’m really enjoying my graduate school experience. I want to use my degree as a springboard to a data analyst or data scientist job. I’m inspired by the way data can be used to help solve global problems like food scarcity and carbon emissions at a country, state and even local level, and I’m hopeful my Master’s in Applied Analytics degree will help me do just that.
Interested in learning more about the Muhlenberg College School of Graduate Studies?
About the Muhlenberg College School of Graduate Studies
The Muhlenberg College School of Graduate Studies offers a variety of post-baccalaureate certificates and master’s degrees aimed at enhancing intellectual and career development through challenging coursework grounded in the liberal arts. With a mix of graduate certificate pathways and master’s degrees aligned with workforce and economic trends, the Muhlenberg College School of Graduate Studies enables students to prepare for professional work and career advancement, with a focus on leadership and innovation.