I am in the midst of applying to grad school.
Though I am applying to a program that requires me to do a philosophical essay, get letters of recommendation, create an artistic portfolio, and more… The GRE is what is really freaking me out. Math isn’t my strongest suit.
I first heard about the program 4 years ago from my mentor. She explained how it completely changed the way she taught and that it was the best program she had ever been a part of. She is an amazing teacher, so I was immediately interested.
The program is set up for teachers. It is three summers of intense classes and portfolio building on specific topics during the school years. I started looking into the program to prepare my application.
Then I got hired in a different district as the head of the high school. (Yeah, the school I just left.) So I knew I was going to be very busy that first year, learning the ropes. I decided to postpone graduate school for a year. I knew it would be overwhelming.
The following year I was pregnant. Obviously not the right time!
Last year, I was learning how to handle a newborn. I honestly had the information with every intent to apply so I would have started this past summer. It was in my planner and everything! But in the haze of new parenthood, I just never got my information together.
While I was at that work conference a few weeks back, I saw a session on this program.
At first, I was like “Why should I go to that? If I am starting to doubt I want to teach anymore, this would be a waste.”
But then I realized that I still wanted to be a professor. I would LOVE to teach at a community college or a full university. There are positions open. The only thing preventing me from applying? The letters M.A.
Two colleges were actually having sessions about their “Master’s for Teachers” programs. I went to both.
Thoughts on the first session I went to for a program I had never heard of:
- Pro: Whoa, estimate of $12,000 total to get my Masters? Not that we just have that money sitting around, but that is pretty dang cheap for graduate school.
- Pro: You can get the degree in 14 months!
- Pro: In Texas, so I am in state.
- Pro: Not the same school that I got my undergraduate degree at. I know this shouldn’t matter, but I was worried if I had degrees from the same school twice that it might look like I wasn’t able to get in anywhere else?
- Con: I have never even heard of this school, so would a degree from there be “worthwhile”?
- Con: 14 months if you take their full course the whole time, which is two complete summers (start of June through start of August) plus 2 intensive online courses during the fall and spring semesters. As if my current job lets me spend a ton of time with my family, adding in two full time online grad courses during the semesters? I was looking into these programs because it was summer based.
- Con: About a 5 hour drive from me, so while I was in state, I would not be able to actually stay at home while in school. The set-up is all day Monday and Tuesday with some work on Wednesday mornings, so they had explained that most people get a hotel on Sunday and typically leave Wednesday. That adds up over a whole summer for two summers.
- Con: I do not know anybody who has gone through this program. I like anecdotes.
Thoughts on the second session I went to for the school I had previously heard about:
- Pro: Literally a 30-minute drive from my house.
- Pro: I know at least three people who have gone through this program and all of them are amazing teachers and directors who I would love to be more like.
- Pro: Classes are only in the summer and just for 4 weeks, Monday through Thursdays. The fourth week is actually a trip to NYC/Chicago/London (rotates each year) with shows and workshops with professional troupes and companies.
- Pro: An extremely competitive program that is very well known and looked upon highly in this field. In fact, a recent graduate of the program is now a professor at the university!
- Con: Estimate of about $20,000 total.
- Con: No classes in the school year, but I needed to update my portfolio during the school year based on what I had learned the previous summer.
- Con: The same university I received my Bachelor’s Degree from.
Both sessions really made me realize that I want to get my Master’s. And for a variety of reasons, apparently. For starters, it is required for the job that I want. I want out of the current situation I am in and this is my way. It will be hard for a little while, but short term pain for long term gain? Secondly, for myself. I feel like getting my Master’s will really help my own self-worth. I have wanted this for awhile. I want it, I need to work for it. It shows me that I am worthwhile.
And finally, for my daughter.
I have every intention of raising my daughter with the knowledge and awareness that she can do and be anything that she wants to be as long as she puts in the work. She has to work, but she can achieve her dreams if she doesn’t give up. What kind of hypocrite would I be if I told her that but actually had given up on myself? Also, way to show her that a woman can be the person with the highest level of education in a household! Setting an example like that for her? Going for her goal even after having a child, showing her that you keep working at it.
Yes. That is what I want her to see. That she is a smart, strong woman who has a smart, strong woman as a mother.
Once I was all fired up about grad school, I weighed the pros and cons and quickly decided on my Alma mater as the program I wanted to aim for. Several of the things said in that presentation helped sway me without being on the pros/cons list. Both presenters had brought a few people who were recent graduates from the program. At the second session, someone asked about financial aid. I know this school is great with that seeing as I received quite a bit from them with my Bachelor’s and it was actually the reason I picked that school over my other acceptances. But one of the recent grads said something that stuck with me.
“I took a student loan. Yes, I am still paying off my loans from my Bachelor’s, but I figured that I was going to die before I paid off those loans anyway. I know that is depressing, but it’s the truth. Why should I let my fear of taking another loan that I will never be able to repay completely prevent me from doing something that I really want? Oh, and the entire time you are enrolled, all your loan payments and interest are deferred since you are a student again!”
I had never thought about the fact that if I really wanted it, go ahead and get it and just keep chipping away at the student loans. Don’t let my previous student loans scare me into not going for it.
That was the moment I was like “OK, let’s do this.”
I got home and put the information on my desk. I talked to my husband about it. He completely supported me. I looked at it again a week later and started the application process.
I worried about the timing. Maybe now wasn’t the right time. I am such a mess right now.
And then I started laughing.
I was waiting for the ideal time. There is no ideal time. Yes, pregnancy and a newborn were really good reasons to not have previously applied. But was I really going to let my fear stop me this time?
So I have been working on it. I have ordered my transcripts, done the general grad application to the school, started my portfolio, contacted some colleagues asking for letters of recommendation (including my mentor who told me about the program), started my essay.
My GRE is scheduled for Monday morning. I am terrified of this part. Even with the fact that the presenter and recent grads all talked about the fact that their scores were not great and that the portfolio was clearly the most important aspect into acceptance in this program.
I debated taking the GRE in about a month, so I would have time to study. But I know me. I procrastinate. Or forget. Or get busy. Plus, GRE at the holidays? No, thank you. My best option was to take it earlier. Bite the bullet and get it done. Essentially, call my own bluff.
I have not been able to study as much as I would have liked, but that would have been the same no matter when I took it. That whole “ideal time” thing, again. During my lunches, I have been going over sample questions. I took a full practice test today. I fell in the range of “Good”, even with my dismal math skills for the quantitative section. I will take another one tomorrow.
And Monday morning, it is game time.