10.01.2012

Educationally Speaking

"Never let fear decide your fate."

I sat down with my boss today to discuss expanding my horizons.  More specifically, the value of graduate school in my life.  Let me rewind for a moment.

Grad school is something I've been mulling over for about 4 years now.  I quickly realized how lucky I was to find a job right out of college, missing the job crisis that began in 2008 by narrow margins.  Soon I noticed many of my friends forgoing the somewhat futile job hunt to continue on into their masters degree.  Here we are 5 years later and more and more college graduates are forgoing "real world" jobs in favor of advanced degrees.  Crap!  Does this mean I'm behind because I don't have a graduate degree?  Still, I couldn't pull the trigger and go back to school without knowing the program I was going into would yield both a solid return on investment and scholastic enjoyment.  So I put off going back to school.


Today, I spent a good hour talking to my boss, an executive director of the local chapter of a major nonprofit, a mother of two, a university guest instructor, a candidate for a masters degree and a woman whom I have already began to look to as a mentor, about my personal aspirations. 

We talked about why I want a degree?
To not get left behind, by my younger counterparts, by my boyfriend, by anyone.  I am competitive.  I always want to be the resume at the top of the pile.  I want to be a leader.  I want to be an innovator.  I want to be an expert.

What do I want to do with my career?
One thing is for sure, I want to be in communications.  I want to engage people.  I want to build brand confidence and brand awareness.  I want to be in charge.  I want to be creative.  I want to plan and execute.  I want to help younger women be successful. 


What are my strengths?
My boss said, I have a clear grasp of how integrated marketing works and how to apply those concepts.  She said I have a knack for calming a situation and getting what needs to be done, done.  She said I am a sales person and I sell myself well.  She said I am aggressive and clearly go after the things I want.  I agreed with her. (toot, toot- yeah, that's me tooting my own horn!)


Will my aspirations require an advanced degree?
Maybe, maybe not.  It's hard to say if experience will outweigh education.  But I do know that one day I would like to teach at a university and that requires a masters degree. 
"The future belongs to those
that believe in the beauty
of their dreams."


What do I want out of my personal life?
I want to be a good wife and mother eventually.  I want to be financially stable.  I want to be able to travel.

Where do I see myself in 5, 10, 15 years? 
No clue.
 
 

So I sought out the experts at my local Barnes and Nobel and as fate would have it, I happened upon Fortune Magazine's 50 Most Powerful Women Issue.  I've got a lot of reading to do.

What do you think? Are you thinking about getting a graduate degree? Do you already have one? What's helped you make the decision?

8 comments:

Kristin said...

As a teacher in PA, I'd already have a graduate degree 4 years out of college. But I started teaching in Alaska. Where masters' degrees aren't required to keep your job as they are in PA. All my PA friends who are teachers already have their grad degrees so I'm already left behind, even though I'm in my 3rd year of teaching in Alaska and make twice as much money as them (Alaska pays more).
At this point, since I'll be quitting my job at the end of this year to move (husband in the army), I might just pursue other interests. Motherhood, being a fitness instructor, etc....I'm already so behind on the teaching masters' that it doesn't seem worth it right now!

Betsy said...

In my field, non-profit fundraising, actual experience is JUST as valuable as an advanced degree if not more so. At the moment, you're miles ahead of your friends with MAs because you have professional experience and they don't. Even in five years, they'll have an MA and five years of experience... and you'll have ten years of experience, which makes you more hirable. We were talking about this in the office a few weeks ago, actually, and my boss (the managing director) confirmed it. So that's our take on it.

However, I got my MA straight after college, and it has nothing to do with my profession. I knew it wouldn't be relevant to what I wanted to do with my life even when I was applying, but I loved the subject and decided it was worth the investment of time and money.

So I'd say that if you're passionate about learning more about whatever - and it's not something you can learn "in the real world" - or you definitely need another degree to advance professionally - like if you want to teach - then go for the MA!

ehms said...

just followed you through gfc blog hop...and i'm surely glad i did. you have a lovely thing going on in here and i am looking forward for your future updates! :-)

Joanna @ Midwestern Bite said...

My husband has a Masters degree, but I stopped at four and did not proceed to graduate work. My goal was always to go back. In fact, when we moved to my current town for my husbands job I applied for jobs at the university to help with the cost. I found employment elsewhere that was exactly what I needed at the time and now am a new SAHM. My take is, the longer you wait the less likely you are to go. If it's in your finances to go, I would absolutely go. I totally agree, it's impossible to be overeducated. It sounds like you will be highly successful no matter what you decide.

Millie said...

We are in the same boat! I've been itching to get back to school since I graduated in 2008 with a PR degree. I feel like in communications, it is so important to get the real-world experience first before you commit to furthering your education in your field, but I have also struggled with the decision to start graduate school. I know there is never an ideal time to go back because there is always going to be something...right now it's a full-time job and a puppy at home, but soon enough it could be kids at home. I obviously don't have any advice (haha). I feel just as confused as you do, but it's nice to know we aren't alone!

Sammantha said...

I regret that I didn't work hard enough in my undergrad, my GPA is not good enough to get into grad school otherwise I probably would.

You're awesome sauce, and it makes sense to want to do it to not get left behind.

xoooo
www.dysfunctionaleverafter.com

Valeri said...

Well, it sure is nice to know I'm not alone! When someone asks me what I want to do with my career, I literally say the same thing as you. Weirddd. But in reality, I don't think a degree is going to get me that. I think that I mostly want a degree to just stay competitive, and be able to say "I have a masters". I know that sounds awful, but it's the truth haha.

Whatever decision you make, I know it will be right for you :)

Allie Brooks said...

Hi! I found your blog through Neely! Oh and I am your 300th follower! How exciting!!

Exciting to read more!