The Truth About Grad School

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By Brittney Schwartz, REALTOR® University

Graduate school can be both an incredibly challenging and rewarding time in a person’s life. A lot of what you will ultimately take away from the experience depends upon how you approach it. Some of the best people to help you prepare are the ones who’ve already been through the process.

That’s why we spoke with current and former students of REALTOR® University’s Master of Real Estate (MRE) program to get their advice for getting the most out of your program. Their advice covers everything from self-care and finances to future goals and planning.REALTOR® University

1. It’s a time to find your niche.

Graduate school is your opportunity to find the specific field you want to specialize in. Mentorships, internships, and a variety of curriculum will help you discover the path that’s right for you. Determine what about real estate speaks to you and pursue it.

My lifelong career has been in real estate associations, in support of real estate professionals, so the association management concentration made perfect sense for me.  Unique to this program, though, is its balance between the academic and the practical.  Many assignments allowed me the opportunity to not only research topics of particular relevance to my work at a real estate association, but also the opportunity to develop practical tools for use in the workplace.
—Mary Martinez, 2014 REALTOR® University MRE Graduate

2. Don’t toss your textbooks.

For many of us, those overpriced books are the first things we want to offload when the term is over. But in grad school, course materials are often the definitive (and sometimes the only) text on a specific topic.

I have kept my books—and referenced them. And a bonus tip, one of the first books a student should purchase is Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition. The papers are required to be written in APA format so becoming familiar with the book is essential.
—Mary Ann Sgobba, 2014 REALTOR® University MRE Graduate

3. Grad school is less like college and more like a full-time job.

Gone are the days of cramming for exams the night before. Many tests and projects in grad school require more time, attention, and a comprehensive study plan. It’s easy to let things pile up between classes, work, and personal life. Figure out how much time you need to set aside for studying each week, and commit to it.

The time management—especially at first—was an adjustment, but not an obstacle. For me, it worked best to get one to two hours in each night after dinner and then several hours Saturday morning. My suggestion to new students would be to find a routine that works for you and stick with it.
—Shannon Bodnar, 2014 REALTOR® University MRE Graduate

4. Leave your comfort zone behind.

If you want to be the best possible you that you can be—and ideally, that’s part of why you’re in graduate school—you’ll need to push your personal boundaries.

Learn from guest speakers and professors. Make friends with them. Unlike your undergrad career, many professors are willing to stay connected after the term ends because they are in your chosen industry. If you have the opportunity to talk to the brightest people in your field, don’t miss out because you “didn’t feel like going to class that week.” It’s an excuse you’ll regret.

I earned my original master’s degree in 1995—a time when the predominant option for working professionals [continuing their education] was brick-and-mortar schools, evenings, and weekends.  The RU master’s program turns that option on its head.  The workload and pace of the accelerated eight-week sessions was a bit more of an adjustment for me.  It was difficult at the beginning.  I liken the experience to working out a new muscle—painful at the beginning but as the muscle gets stronger the pain lessens. This program allowed me to fit schoolwork into my schedule, from the comfort of home, while away on business, or wherever.
—Mary Martinez, 2014 REALTOR® University MRE Graduate

5. Know Your Resources.

Find out what perks and bonuses a program offers beyond class electives. As a REALTOR® University student, the largest real estate library in the world is at your fingertips. Students receive unlimited access to the REALTOR® University Library while completing our Master of Real Estate program, and can maintain access as alumni as well.

The REALTOR® University Library staff is awesome and provides assistance with research as well as review of papers before submitting to the instructor. I would recommend that students complete their writing assignments a few days before due date to allow for review by the REALTOR® University Library staff. Besides the assistance with research, the review by the Library staff was extremely helpful.
—Mary Ann Sgobba, 2014 REALTOR® University MRE Graduate

6. Enjoy the ride.

Going back to school can be a big time and financial commitment, but it can also be an eye opening and fulfilling part of your academic career—and it opens doors you’ll appreciate for the rest of your life. Plus, you’ll learn new skills and become an expert in topics that you weren’t as knowledgeable in when you began the program. Getting an advanced degree will set the stage for your professional advancement, but it’s also a great adventure. Find ways to enjoy it every step of the way.

For more information about the Master of Real Estate program and other educational opportunities available through REALTOR® University, visit

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Comments 2

  1. I have one more course to complete and I will finish the REALTOR University masters program. I would highly recommend it to others. It has helped me look at my real estate business from a whole new perspective.

  2. This is great for those who like to have lots of designations after their names but I honestly don’t see the advantage and I doubt the client will either. At some point you simply have to stop drinking the Kool Aid and get to work.

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