Once A Student, Always A Student
Sometimes obtaining your degree from college is not the end of your educational journey. From experience I found that after entering the workforce, the idea of returning to school to obtain your master’s degree seemed a little overwhelming. I debated on returning for many years before actually applying, but I never regret the decision to go back to school. I found being a student is comparable to riding a bike; you never really forget how to attend classes, study, take exams, or write papers.
In terms of returning to graduate school, I broke down the process into two phases.
The first phase is applying to a specific graduate program that matches your interests and future endeavors while still allowing you to work professionally.
Find a program that fits your routine. I found that there are a lot of programs that have online classes or if you need person to person interaction you can opt for evening classes.
Find a program that fits your budget. Just like any type of school, private schools are more expensive to attend than public schools.
Find a program that is applicable to your future endeavor. Many programs post their course curriculum online so that you can get an idea of what most of the program will cover.
Find out if your current company would be willing to help pay for your tuition fully or at least partially. Most companies that offer tuition reimbursement require a contract to stay with the company for a specific amount of time after graduation from the program, ensure that you are comfortable with those commitments.
Find a program that fits your intended graduate school completion goals. There are some programs that can be completed in 1 year, 2 years, and other intervals of time.
The second phase is focusing on how to complete the degree requirements successfully. This can be applied to any student whether you are in high school or college.
1. Make a commitment to better time management once you are accepted to a program. Be ready to sacrifice much of your personal time to devote to your classes, papers, and projects.
2. Keep track of important due dates. At the start of every term I found it beneficial to create a timeline of specific due dates for papers and projects as well as exam dates for each of my classes. These dates and times were indicated on my combined work/school/personal calendar so that there would be no confusion about time allotment.
3. Break down the big projects and papers into smaller, manageable goals. I would determine the best schedule to study and immediately after work I would ensure that actions would be taken towards these goals and very rarely would I make excuses about not being able to complete tasks.
4. Utilize any assistance from your program. Many programs offer study groups and extra help with classes especially working professionals. Reach out for tutoring when necessary.
5. Make friends with people in your cohort within your program. This will help with any questions regarding assignments and will be important for networking once you graduate.