my grad school journey, part 1

I remember back to my senior year of college, where everyone was posting that it was their last first day of school ever. I never posted that. I always knew I would be going to grad school for something. I just didn't expect it to take four years. But now I can finally say it…

This is my last first day of school (at least for now). See what I did there?


I didn't plan on going to grad school right after college. My plan was to work for a couple of years and then go back when I had some money or tuition assistance to use. I didn't realize the full extent of how bad the recession was until winter break that year. I started to realize that 2010 was such a bad year to be graduating from college and that my international relations degree wasn't going to help me in Tampa. I did some research and decided to apply to the urban planning program at the school I was already attending (because why not?). I took the GRE, compiled rec letters, polished off a personal statement, and submitted by application…all in under two weeks. I got in, but decided to keep looking for full-time employment just in case. By August, I was still unemployed and starting what should have been a quick two-year journey.

I loved my first year in grad school. I eventually got a job tutoring three days a week in a local high school. I had just ended a relationship that dragged on for too long. I was having a blast with my friends. I met Johnny. Everything was great, but during summer 2011 I went through a mini-crisis of heart. I loved urban planning, but did I want to be an urban planner? Did I want to have such a specialized skill set that I would be stuck in the same field my whole life? Was this even practical? I was sick of living off of loans, never having enough money to do anything. I started looking for full-time employment again, but no one was interested in someone with a BA in international relations and half an MA in urban planning. I had very few practical "skills." I panicked and dropped out of USF.

Three weeks later I reapplied to USF, this time to start in their MS Real Estate program. That degree shares a lot of common courses with urban planning, so I figured it would be a more practical alternative. The decision to go for this degree never really sat right with me, but I knew I wouldn't find "meaningful employment" otherwise. A few days later, I finally found a job as a project contractor at the company Johnny was working for. This eventually grew into assisting the escrow payments department and my first real work experience. Maybe this would pay off after all…

Look for part two tomorrow.


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