my grad school journey, part 2

Yesterday I discussed what led me into grad school and ultimately leave my first degree program halfway through. I'll finish the story today with what happened after I switched to the College of Business.


Because I was going into the MSRE program without a business background, I was required to take many of the same introductory classes as the MBA students. In fact, every single person I worked with during my first semester was an MBA student. I loved listening to what they planned to do after all of the intro classes were completed. I actually started feeling depressed because they had so many options and I didn't. Even though I would have carried over a substantial amount of credits to the MSRE program, I decided to enter the MBA program instead, "officially" starting during the Spring 2012 semester.

While I was switching degree programs (yet again), I was also interviewing for a full-time paid intern position I heard about through the urban planning program. I ended up getting the job, which turned into a full-time, salaried position a couple of months later. I also decided to keep going to school full-time for the next two semesters because I had already taken out the loans for the academic year. This was probably the roughest time I had in grad school. I was working 40+ hours a week PLUS going to classes 3-4 times a week. 

After summer 2012, I decided to slow down to part-time for a couple of reasons. Even though I could do full-time work and school, I wanted to catch my breath once in a while. I also decided that I wasn't going to take out any more loans for school and would pay out-of-pocket for everything. This limited the amount of credits I could take to whatever I had saved up for that semester. I calculated that I would graduate in December 2013 if I took at least two classes a semester.

However, my plans changed again during the Fall 2012 semester. I fell in love with marketing and realized that I was actually good at it. I had been struggling to find something I was passionate about in the MBA program, but something was set off during my marketing strategy class. I did some number crunching and saw that I could graduate with a second masters degree if I stayed one extra year. It didn't seem like a long time back then, so I applied for and started working on that MS Marketing degree as well.

So now I'm working on both an MBA and an MS Marketing degree while going part-time and paying for whatever I can afford that semester. It became routine for me to save half of my paycheck a month just to afford classes. Slowly, but surely, I made it through each semester. It started getting old, but I was already so far in that I couldn't just stop. I needed to see this through to the end. When I got upset or annoyed, I had to remind myself that I'm the only person who got myself in this deep and that I'm the only person who can get me out.

As I write this today, I'm done with this routine. I've paid my final tuition payment. I've purchased my last overpriced textbook. I just have two classes left before I walk across that stage wearing two tassles.

I've (almost) completed two masters degrees while working full-time. How many people can say they've done that?

PS: Elise Blaha Cripe posted a podcast about lifelong learning today. Perfect timing! Check out episode 24 here.

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