Moving the Cognitive Needle to Better Understand the Real Estate Industry: Studying at REALTOR® University


This article was written by Jill Parker Landsman, proud REALTOR® University alumnus. This post is in memory of Suzanne Granoski, 2016 NVAR Chair Elect and dedicated supporter of  NVAR’s VP of Communications, Jill Parker Landsman.

When I set out to complete my master’s degree, starting in May, 2013 at REALTOR® University, I was then serving my six-week jail sentence on crutches for a stress fracture in my foot, ending my career in Zumba. My husband and I had just completed four solid years of Mid-Atlantic jaunts watching our daughter Caitlin play goalie on the Marist Women’s Soccer team. Our long days of 12-hour-road trips for three hours on a collegiate soccer pitch came to an end.

I had peeked at the Realtor® University website and listened to announcements about REALTOR® University by NAR leaders. NVAR’s RE+View magazine even had a spread about RU’s graduate program. Something clicked; I knew online studies would be a match for me. My health quotient was good; my motivation index great!

My start at Realtor® University coincided with the start of JillLandsmanour daughter’s master’s studies. After learning that I applied for the RU master’s program, my daughter said to me, “You just want to go to graduate school because I am going.” Okay, maybe there was a drop of truth in that, not that I would ever admit that to her! It wasn’t so much that I wanted to pursue my master’s because she was, but she had the right idea: the wave of the future is advanced education to help differentiate ourselves. While I had English literature graduate studies at Florida International University; it was at a time when bell bottoms reigned supreme, and “online” meant you left wet garments on a clothes line to dry.

I did not embark on the learning journey because I needed a career boost. I simply wanted to better understand the complex and fluid real estate industry. Why do some practitioners do so much better than others do? What do they know? How do the smartest, trusted advisers break through the clutter of the crowd? Why does this industry have cycles, and what causes them anyway?

I wanted to know! As the Vice President of Communications & Media Relations at the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors®, I led the roll out of three websites, served as the Editor-in-Chief of an award-winning magazine, secured countless media opportunities and cared about delivering more to members.

This time the learning was for me, as my drive to help Realtors® raise their own bars continued. I wanted a deeper understanding about appraisals, green construction trends, advanced marketing, real estate finance, real estate and business law, and best practices in both brokerage — and association — management.

If you have the mental bandwidth to take on the REALTOR® University program, I recommend it. Would I do it over again if I knew how much was involved: YES, I would. One of the greatest byproducts has been the number of friends, family, and colleagues who have told me that I have inspired them to pursue learning, and particularly online learning.

Here are some tips:

  1. Apply for the scholarship; you may win it. It was actually soul searching to write the essay to explain my intent.
  2. If you can find a geographically nearby student colleague, meet her or him. My REALTOR® University- lifelong friend is Mary Ellen Volpa, who was in my first class.
  3. Don’t dwell on the time it will take. No one at REALTOR® University rushes you. I never wanted to fully map out the schedule early on. At the end of my second year, I asked, “What’s left?”
  4. Ask questions. Seek out one-on-one conversations and dialogue with your professors. Advanced degrees are not intended just to take up massive amounts of study time, but rather, provide an opportunity to have a great experience as a student (Again).
  5. Time management does become a juggling act. Weekends were usually spoken for… with Sunday night deadlines for all assignments. Saturday and Sunday were homework and study days, in addition to most evenings of each week.

By no means was my three-year learning journey easy. On a personal level, these three years included dealing with an untimely family death, sickness, our children’s numerous cross-country moves and my still working full time.

However, my tenacity won out. I lost count of the times that my newfound knowledge brought dividends. I understand the backstory of industry concepts, issues and trends, because I studied them in RU courses! The best part is when the learning journey is over. The joy, relief and pride set in.

The greatest gift about the RU program is its flexibility, and ability to tailor your education to an already busy life. There may never be the perfect time to embark on your advanced education journey, but I encourage you to keep in mind that you can go at the pace that best fits you and your life. Plus, it may be the only way to get your spouse – or significant other — to admit you are the MASTER!

Jill Parker Landsman is Vice President, Communications & Media Relations at the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS®. Once her youngest child completed four years of collegiate soccer, Jill traded the soccer pitch for the academic pitch at RU. Working in the communications media businesses since the late ‘70s, she earned her Master’s Degree in Real Estate in 2016, concentrating in Real Estate Association Management. 

2 replies
  1. Jim Haisler
    Jim Haisler says:

    As a fellow graduate, let me just continue shaking my head in agreement. My path and rationale may have been different but you sing all the right praises. My only additional comment for those THINKING about the program is to apply. Put in your application – its FREE – and see what it entails. No obligation to take a single course. From there the choice is yours. FYI – I took a few semesters off and completed the 12 courses in 3.5 years. Warning: about half way through you get addicted and by the end you’re wanting more.

    • Jill Parker Landsman
      Jill Parker Landsman says:

      Jim, You are a stellar example of how an AE can get it done. Further affirmation about your commitment was your award for the BEST RU Thesis in 2016. The icing on the cake in this program, IMO, is making new friends just like you!

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