3 degrees of education
Posted by clsaarinen
This learning business is an exhausting process with a reward that symbolizes the journey but in no way captures the experience. Like any adventurer, there are times I question my motives, question my resolve to complete the mission. When it is 11:30pm and I’ve been staring at my laptop for 16 hours straight and I haven’t managed more than a few pages of writing, when I have barely uttered more than a few words (or grunts) to the people in my household and I need to get to bed because I have to leave at 6am to get to my 8am Saturday morning class 75 miles from home, I wonder: What the hell am I doing?
What does a degree mean?
I have friends who collect masters degrees like Pokemon cards (I’m talking about you, AK) and friends pursuing doctorates. When you’re wired for learning and you work in higher ed, there is an open avenue for more, more, more. The degree you choose is important for your career and will matter to the people you want to work with, but it should matter most to you.
What fellow academics want to know is “where have you come from?” and “what have you done?”. While it is tempting to pick a school because of its brand or its history or the cost of attending, what is important is the journey. It should be satisfying and beneficial for you, the learner. Sure the name on the outside of the building matters to some extent, but you’re the one who has to do the work and live with the result. Pick a program that matters to you, where you can study what interests you and produce work that demonstrates your abilities. Never put yourself in a position where need to explain your choice. If you’re happy, that is all that matters.
What does your degree say about you?
To be a student again, for the third time, is an amazing thing. When I have a tough week and doubt creeps in, I think about hanging that third and final degree on the wall. The achievement matters to me much more than it could ever matter to anyone else. It’s my journey, my struggle, my adventure. It’s an all engrossing, all-encompassing experience. When I first signed up for this, I used to joke that it was my marathon, my Everest. It’s not a joke anymore – it really does take that kind of commitment, that kind of endurance to keep going.
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