By the time this publishes, I’ll be one week away from graduating with my master’s degree in higher education and student affairs. It seems crazy to me how the past two years have flown by, yet at the same time, feel like they lasted a lifetime.
Before my first graduate course even started, I was already worried about keeping up with the coursework. I had heard horror stories about the ridiculous reading load, and the massive paper assignments that would come with each class. I quickly realized that although the reading load was heavy, I found it much easier to actually complete than the reading I did as an undergraduate. Why? Because within the first few chapters I knew that what I was reading would be applicable to my everyday life. Though I found that the rumors about huge paper assignments were mostly true, I again found it easier to write 10 pages about social media and its recruitment of first-generation students than it ever was to write three pages reflecting on a reading in my composition class.
I was also really worried about the change from attending all of my classes in person to an almost entirely online-based curriculum. I know some people struggle with online classes and miss the face-to-face interaction that bolsters their extroverted spirit; however, I found that online classes were totally my forte’. I loved being able to work at my own pace and delve into the concepts and ideas that specifically interested me. I thrived from having time to create responses on discussion boards, and to take the time to formulate my thoughts and ideas before sharing them.
During my two years as a graduate student, I also challenged the commonplace “imposter syndrome” feeling. I wasn’t sure if I was as smart as the other students. I questioned whether my lack of interest in being an academic advisor was normal. “Am I really in the right place”, I thought, as I plodded through class discussions and toiled on file papers. It took some time, but once I was less focused on what my classmates were doing for their internships, literature reviews or service learning projects, and became more focused on what interested me and where I wanted to go, I found those feelings of inadequacy slip away. In the beginning of my program I was so focused on what the pack was doing, that I wasn’t allowing myself to break away and find my own path. Once I realized that my journey didn’t have to be the same as everyone else’s path, I found my footing.
Two years ago, I remember heavy nostalgia weighing me down, as the unknown of “adult life” loomed before me. Now? I’m excited to start my next adventure. Maybe it is because I am happily settled in a job that I love. Maybe it’s because I finally feel equipped by my schooling to go out in the world to be successful in whatever path I choose. Either way, this specific adventure is over and I am ready to see what the next year will bring. Graduate school was a tough two years—but two years that I think really helped me develop as both a student and a student affairs professional. Now, equipped with my degree, I am ready to continue my adventure in higher education. Thank you to all of you who have had a part in my educational journey. You have all had an impact on the person I am today and I’m grateful that I had you beside me on my journey. I can’t wait to see where my next adventure takes me.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.
> BONUS <