I started school again this semester. I’m working on prerequisites so I can apply to my second Master’s, and it’s equally terrifying and exciting. I love school and I love learning. I’m excited at the prospect of learning new information and gaining new skills. However, it’s terrifying to embark on this new journey going back to school without much guidance. I’m only taking one class (and it’s completely online), but being an RD makes it difficult to find time to do schoolwork. Furthermore, the class I’m taking is one that is well outside of my normal skill set, so it takes up much more time than anticipated.
I am sharing my story because going back to school is not something frequently discussed in reslife. In reslife, I see many amazing people with multiple degrees, and I often wonder how they got there. Seeing them made me wonder when I would be able to jump back into the academic pool. I’m still unsure when and how those that inspire me got their degrees, but their dedication was inspiring enough for me to go back.
I am enrolled in an online non-degree program. Because of this, the advisor I have and the advising I receive is very different from what I’m used to. I had to register on my own, using a system I had never used. Luckily, I am efficient at learning new tech, but I suddenly had a better understanding of what my students feel like when they first register for classes.
Once I successfully registered for and began my class, I quickly remembered the difficulty of homework. It’s extremely challenging to find undisturbed time to do homework and to take tests. I had forgotten how long the homework in an undergrad class can take, especially when it’s in a fairly dry subject. I need at least five hours each week to complete homework. While that may not seem like a lot of time in the grand scheme of things, it is a lot in the life of an RD. Between on-call rotation, programs, and regular office hours, it feels like the longest five hours of my week. Going back to school has required a reorganization of my outside of work priorities, to say the least. Netflix and my weekends are taking a back seat (sorry Grey’s Anatomy, I’ll see you soon).
My biggest challenge is not my dedication or choice of classes. My biggest challenge is the amount of time that I don’t have and balancing my professional life with my school life. Being an RD and taking a single class is also depriving me of sleep.
Despite the challenges, there is also an exciting aspect of going back. I am learning much more than I thought I would. Taking a class that is well outside of my wheelhouse is reigniting my love of learning. While the beginning of the course was boring and the textbook is dry, the hands-on part is amazing. I never thought spreadsheets could be exciting, but they can be. It’s also a unique experience to be able to bond with my students over our shared homework induced time constraints. I’m finding that some of my students are taking a similar class and they’re sharing some tricks to make it a bit more enjoyable.
Overall, I would recommend going back to school. If you are an RD and are hesitant about taking the leap but really want to, I’d say do it. Make sure it’s something you can discuss openly with your supervisor (mine has been amazingly supportive). It’s a completely different experience than the first time around, but it can give you more opportunities to further your career and more opportunities to bond with your students. It can make you appreciate your leisure time even more. It is your career and your path to build. Even in reslife, going back to school is doable—albeit a bit challenging. If you have questions or want to share your view send me a tweet @mlsanzo. Otherwise, happy learning!