So, what are you going to do with your masters degree?
It’s a question I get asked fairly often. And rightfully so.
I don’t need a masters degree to get my dream job // consulting solopreneurs and small businesses in the wellness space on how to harness the power of social media.
But here I am, in grad school. Turning down potential job opportunities. And questioning whether or not this program is the right choice for me right now.
Back track: Why I applied in the first place
I always pictured myself as the kind of person that goes to grad school. Partially because I’m competitive with my brother and he has his masters (I should note that he is NOT competitive with me) but also because I’ve always loved learning.
Sure I didn’t love learning calculus in high school and I didn’t always love my theater studies classes in college, but I’ve always had this unquenchable thirst for new knowledge. To always be learning.
What better place to learn than grad school?
Grad school has been on my mind since college. But I was never sure what I would go to grad school for. Would it be for music therapy, my dream career when I was in high school? Or maybe exercise science to match my passion for fitness and personal training experience? I danced with the idea of getting my doctorate in physical therapy, until chemistry and biology kicked my ass.
And then I became interested in business school. The idea sparked from my first job in the start-up world.
Maybe I should get my MBA.
I wanted to learn everything I could about marketing and running my own business. And I wanted to make up for my undergraduate theater degree and lack of business training.
Once I get an idea in my head, something I really, really want, it’s hard to shake that idea. It usually happens with an article of clothing — I couldn’t stop thinking about buying a pair of white, canvas, Converse sneakers. Finally I caved and bought them. You win brain! After nagging me for six months I freaking bought them!
Business school was another nagging idea. So I listened to my nagging brain and took the GMAT. The ball was in my court and with my mediocre test scores I could start applying to schools.
The plan wasn’t to apply one month later. But then my full-time marketing job was downsized to a part-time position… and eventually eliminated. The thought of applying for jobs once again and writing endless cover letters was unappealing.
I also I wanted to create my own thing. But I had NO idea how — or even what — I would create.
So, I met with career counselors from my alma matter praying they would tell me what I should be when I grow up. Eventually my vision of being my own boss came into the conversation. Why don’t you pursue a freelance career in social media.
So freaking obvious.
But then I realized oh fuck. I don’t really know what I’m doing. Sure I’ve run the social media for a few start-ups and have learned a thing or two from promoting this blog. But do I know enough to actually get clients? Uhhhhh, good question.
So, I applied to grad school.
To fill in those knowledge gaps. To bolster up my confidence and resume. I applied to a program in social media and mobile marketing, to be exact.
I did my due diligence researching the program and talking to current students about their experience.
And I crossed my fingers they would accept me. Because I didn’t have a backup plan. And I didn’t want to write cover letters about why I’m the perfect candidate for your company.
In the meantime I did my yoga teacher training, another lifelong goal of mine, and waited to find out my fate. When I graduated teacher training I was left with a ball of anxiety in my belly. If grad school doesn’t pan out, I don’t know what I’m going to do.
When eventually that acceptance email arrived, the day after yoga teacher training ended, I was crying happy tears. Everything was falling into place.
Flash forward to now…
I’m a semester and a half into grad school. And have mixed feelings about my experience. So much so that I’m questioning if it’s worth it to continue the program.
Ugh, I don’t know.
Grad school is not what I thought it would be. And more specifically this program isn’t what I envisioned. For starters, we’ve barely touched social media. And when we do, it’s using an outdated article from 2011 that doesn’t mention instagram 🙄. I’m still not gaining the knowledge I crave.
I’ve also had to turn down job opportunities I really wanted.
School has started to get in the way of my career. Which is ironic because I went back to school to launch my career.
I’m realizing a few things about grad school and education in general:
Learning doesn’t have to happen in a traditional setting.
Graduate school is not the only place to pick up new knowledge as an adult.
In my head I equated grad school to legitimacy, but that’s not even necessarily true. There are so many other ways to learn a skill, whether it’s social media, digital marketing or how to be a better writer.
I wanted that badge of honor, that I went to grad school so I clearly know my shit. But there are other ways to get a badge of honor that cost a heck of a lot less and are less time consuming.
I’ve started looking into alternative diploma programs that will get me the social media knowledge and know-how I crave.
Maybe I’m not as academic as I think I am.
This one has been difficult for me to digest.
I’m realizing there’s a difference between having a hunger for learning and being academic. I always thought both described me.
Learning means teaching yourself how to use photoshop and taking a course on SEO. Academic means writing a research paper about your social media internship and studying for an exam.
I’m struggling to be academic. Because the truth is, I don’t want to write a social media research paper. It’s an assignment that I don’t feel prepares me for my actual career goals.
You don’t know until you live it.
I thought grad school was the answer. This program in particular. And I did all the proper research to confirm this hunch. But the thing is, you never know until you live it. All the research in the world could not tell me what my actual grad school experience would be like.
In many ways I had to experience it for myself to know if I made the right decision.
I’m scared what others will think.
I know I’ve jumped around from job to job, career to career. It’s not something I’m proud of. Every time I run into an old friend, I inevitably have to tell them about whatever new thing I’m up to these days.
It’s something I’ve become self conscious of.
Add in there the fact that I choose to share my life on the internet. So, yeah, I am a little scared of what others will think. Yet another thing I gave up on in life.
I don’t know what I’m going to do. Stick it out and finish the program? Look for something else? Consider the experience yet another failed attempt at getting my life together?
I really really don’t know.
I write all this not to be a Debbie Downer and woe-is-me about my grad school experience, but to say it’s okay to question if you made the right choice. Even if it’s a bit after the fact.