March 16, 2012
After months – no, years – of thinking and researching, I finally discovered the right career path for me. Broadcast meteorology seemed so perfect that I was practically bursting at the seams with excitement. It felt so good to have a direction. The ultimate goal, of course, was and remains to have a successful career in the field (I hear the Weather Channel calling my name). First things first, however, I need to get into graduate school. To get in, I needed to apply. And to apply… well, I needed to know what schools I was applying to!
As it turns out, most TV weather personalities got their start with just an undergraduate degree in meteorology (offered at many schools around the country) - so I had very few role models to emulate when it came to choosing a graduate school. Not knowing where else to start, I turned where any 21st century college grad would turn: Google. I thought the search would last hours; that there would be at least ten or twenty schools and programs to sift through. I thought wrong. It turned out that there was only one program in the entire world to fit my exact needs: Mississippi State University’s Broadcast Meteorology Program.
Mississippi. That’s probably not what you were expecting to hear, was it? Me neither. Never in a million years did I picture myself living in Mississippi. I’ve always been a northern girl: born in NJ, raised in PA, family in NY. Mississippi was barely even a part of my vocabulary (other the fact that it was the first state I learned how to spell as a kid)! To be honest, it presented me with a temporary setback. For a few months, I was in denial. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t want to be a broadcast meteorologist; that something more popular in the tri-state area would be just fine. When that didn’t work, I spent hours and hours looking for an alternate option. There were a few “almost” hits, but nothing that compared.
When you’re applying to graduate school, it is very important to pick the program that is best for you academically; and in the end, there was no denying that MSU was the best for me. So I bit the bullet and emailed in with some questions. I love email. It’s not as big of a commitment as a phone call - you can take the time to think about exactly what you want to say - and there is nobody on the other end of the line to put you on the spot. Yet, it is still an acceptable way to make connections and get your name out there…. and if they recognize your name when they see your application a few weeks or months down the line, it will help you stand out!
The questions I started with were simple. I asked about course content and application requirements/prerequisites. What happened was that my simple questions led complicated answers – and the complicated answers led to more questions – and all of the sudden I was having a really meaningful conversation that helped me better determine if MSU was a good fit for me. Here are a few of my questions, in case you’re thinking of questions of your own to ask your prospective graduate programs:
Q: What are the trends among your graduates... do most graduates of the program go on to have successful careers in broadcast meteorology?
Q: I know many employers look for AMS [American Meteorological Society] certification… does your program satisfy all of the educational requirements?
If you’re still researching and deciding on a graduate program, I recommend asking questions that are specific to your degree and future career path. For me, it certainly helped me realize that MSU offered what was important to me. Remember when I said that the people on tv have to know what they’re talking about? I wasn’t lying. If you are interested, you can see the certification requirements here:
It’s a lot to learn, but as I dug deeper in my research, MSU seemed to have it all and then some. Their program was starting to sound pretty worthwhile. But was it enough reason to move down south? I still needed to do a little bit more digging.
Rachael has a B.S. in Geography from the University of Maryland and is currently applying to graduate school for broadcast meteorology.
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