Random thoughts on grad school...

I've been thinking a lot lately about grad school. I've always known that I wanted to get my master's degree (and possibly even a PhD), but first life was about getting my husband through college, then I started my technology endorsement, then I had a baby, and so forth.

But to be honest, thinking about applying for grad school makes my head hurt. Literally. These are the things that start running through my head:
  • I always thought I'd want to be a principal some day and always thought I'd go the administration route, but then I saw how tiring it was to be a principal, and how you have to deal with so much negativity from parents, other teachers, the district, etc. That turned my head away from administration real fast.
  • Then I was sure I wanted to do something social studies related. My undergrad minor was a social studies composite and I LOVE American history with a passion. I've thought about the idea of teaching it in a high school or jr high setting, but then I remember how much I love ten year olds and how I love teaching all the other subjects too. 
  • Then I thought I'd do a masters in STEM. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.) But then I get scared because it seems so hard. Engineering on a college level? Not so sure I could handle it.
  • Then I think about the usuals: reading, curriculum design, ELL, etc. I think about technology in education and how much I would like that. I sometimes even play around with the idea of special ed. Could I make a difference in the special education world?
WHY IS THIS SO CONFUSING?!

That's only the first hard part. Then I have to think about WHERE. Where do I go to get my masters? Do I do a simple online course so I can work at my own pace from the comfort of my own home? Do I go to a local community college or a university close to home? I think about how, as a little girl, I used to dream of going to Penn State. Could I really move my family across the country? Is that logical? (One time my husband applied for a job in Texas and I thought I could go to Texas A&M... too bad he didn't get the job...)

This post is just me sorting out my thoughts. 
Maybe someone out there has some answers to my questions? 
Any advice? 

P.S. Sorry there are no freebies or cute clipart included in the post. :)

32 comments:

Rachelle said...

I FEEL THE SAME WAY! I think I want to be a principal, but then I don't know! Maybe I want is to be a presenter at conferences....hmm.....I don't know. Maybe we should set up some meetings at local and online universities together and chat with some advisors! :)

Elisa said...

I don't have any advice, but I can totally relate to you! I can't make a decision about my masters either and I have a similar list of pros/cons. Good luck! I'm looking forward to reading the comments.

Frances L. Gonzalez-Garcia said...

As cliche as it may sound....just follow your heart.

You'll know exactly what to do. Just look for those open doors of opportunities.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that your fabulous contribution to the education sector and to the world of teacher bloggers is all that matters-Masters/Ph.D. degree or not :)

Best of wishes.
Frances

www.g2reading.blogspot.com

Grade ONEderful said...

I got my masters at our local university 7 years ago. It was hard work but VERY satisfying. I knew I wasn't going into admin but I did the masters for my own satisfaction. I kept working full-time and took courses part-time. It took me four years and the last summer was the hardest cause I felt so burned out. My kids were out of high school though so I didn't have those demands. If I had to start over I'd do it again ~ no question. Good luck with your decision.

Barb

Elyse said...

You are not alone with these thoughts. I have thought about my getting my masters too. I keep tossing back and forth between if I should do the in person route or online route. Due to the budget cuts and the lack of teaching jobs(even though I am certified) I am currently a instructional assistant in a special needs classroom. I love it and I have thought about a masters in SPED. I love your blog. :)

Mrs. Nunley said...

I am like you...I always knew that I wanted to get my masters. An opportunity opened up with a local private college in our community that created a masters program for the local teachers. At that time (2006), there was more money in budgets everywhere and the school board paid for it. The masters program was in Reading Education. It has helped me tremendously...not only in first grade, but in my previous life as a third grade teacher. Go for it. It is something that you have always wanted, and life is too short. Good luck!

Wanda Brown said...

I went through the same process. I tried by starting with Special Ed. I was very disappointed quickly as the Masters program was not very different from my undergrad sped program and so I dropped out. Ten years later, I got my masters in technology and loved every minute of it. I could apply everything I was doing to my first grade classroom. I left the classroom and went into educational tech for five years which was quite a change from the classroom. Then...I longed for the little ones again and returned to first grade only to find things had changed in literacy so...I went back again and just finished my CAS in literacy. Look for your immediate passion and head in that direction. There is plenty of time to study something else later on.

csturch said...

Right now, I am beginning my Capstone project for my Masters in Curriculum & Instruction. I went through the same questions as you and it delayed my starting graduate school for years.
My principal was the one who looked at me and said "I think you should work on a Curriculum degree. You're always volunteering to evaluate programs for us anyway!"
Once that lightbulb lit up, I quickly found a Masters program through Abilene Christian. Their Moodle format and online schedule worked perfectly with my lifestyle. One class at a time with ten days off between classes. The instructors were great and the technology was easy to learn.
Best of luck to you!
Cari
http://sturchstars.blogspot.com
http://technologyinhighheels.blogspot.com

Beth- the mama bee said...

I wasn't looking to start my masters my second year teaching, but some other teachers in my school were starting their through olivet naz. university. They have an online program, but you work through it as a small group. It totally keeps you going -we met once a week after school for 2-3 hours. The work is split for some assignment and individual for others. We completed it in 18months maybe (it's been 6 years ago) the same month my first child was born. We did ours in curriculum and instruction. I don't know if this is state level or national (I'm teaching preschool now), but my sister told me there is a new rule about the pay scale, and unless you have your masters finished by 2013 (?) you can't get additional pay for a masters.... She's in her first year teaching and is thinking about starting her masters in January to get it done in time. But seriously, it feels so good to be able to say I have my masters.

Ms. Thomas said...

I am currently getting my Masters of Ed with a Reading Specialist. I agree it was a tough decsision because I always thought about administration. Grad school has helped me realize how much I love teaching reading, and now I hope to be a reading specialist somewhere someday.
I can honestly say my classes have made me a better teacher. I have learned SO much. Even though it cost a lot I am so happy I did it! :)

-Ms. Thomas

The First Grade Jungle

... said...

Your life sounds like mine. And when I was ready for a grad program, I couldn't really find one that floated my boat - until I found Western Oregon University's MSed in Information Technology program. I teach 1st grade. I love technology. And, I've LOVED all my courses. Best of all, it's online, so I "go to school" after my 4 year old is asleep- no guilt! I'll graduate after winter term this year. I would highly recommend it. I'd be happy to answer questions if you are interested: my email is janainmontana (at) yahoo (dot)com. Good luck!

Liz said...

Oh my goodness! How similar this is to my situation. I am certified in NY State so I have a limited time to get my master's completed. I have been out of college for 2 years, which leaves me 3 more to complete my master's. I keep putting it off because 1. financially we can't afford it & 2. I can't decide what program I want to pursue. Obviously I have to get my act together pretty quickly if I plan on finishing it within my time-frame. So don't feel alone, a lot of us are struggling with this too. You will pick what you love and be great at it.

Thank you for providing such amazing pointers & freebies :)

Sundaze15 said...

I say "Go for it!"! I completed my M.Ed. from Penn State in 2009 (and my B.S. in ELKED in 2004, as well!) in Teacher Leadership and although it was a TON of work (it was an all online program with lots of video chatting, etc.) it was definitely worth it!

I actually live (and grew up) about 30 minutes from State College, PA so if you really are serious about applying and moving to the area, please feel free to ask any questions!

First Time @Fifth Grade said...

I have been thinking of the same thing. I have a master's. I have certified in four areas but I have been thinking about the idea of going for my doctorate. It's a hard decision. Thanks for posting. I love the different options people are providing. Def helpful! Thanks!!!

CoastalCody said...

I received my Masters at USF in Instructional Technology. It is an online program but I did have to do some parts of classes on campus. But that was a few years back so they may offer it completely online now. I LOVED the program. USF offers other Ed online programs too - may be worth looking at this website which list their online programs: http://www.grad.usf.edu/programs/search6_online.asp?searchtext=null

Good luck in your decision!

Janis said...

It's such a big decision! I wanted to get Grad School right out of the way after I graduated with my Bachelors. (Plus it was December and no one was hiring so it made sense.) I actually went the School Counseling route because, here in NY, the program would allow me to graduate with a Masters in Education (needed for NYS certification) and a CAS in School Counseling. So I'm actually dually certified! The program was WAY more challenging than my education courses and gave me a PHENOMENAL skill base to use in and outside of the classroom. In short, the program made me a better PERSON in addition to teacher.

Originally though..I was looking for a Grad program that would allow me to rule the world. I have yet to find one. You let me know if you come across one in your research. :D Good luck!

Stephanie said...

I LOVE how honest you are in your posts! You are CLEARLY a teacher leader (evident from your Blog!!!)! Look how many followers you have on here alone! I got my Masters (in Divergent Learning) from a local College (Columbia College) that offered a weekend program once a month. It was tough, but WELL worth it!!! If you have a good family support, you can do do it!!! Our district has cohort programs through various colleges too (in different areas of certification) to make meeting easier. I did my Masters 7 years ago (before I figured out that I DO want to be an administrator). I am currently in my last classes for that. I went the online route for this degree/program through Walden University (the only online accredited program accepted by our Dept. of Ed. in SC), and I am doing my Education Specialist Degree (and all the hours for it would apply towards my PhD if I ever go back for that (so I would be half way done with that before even starting) in Educational Leadership and Principal Certification. I have LOVED Walden, and they have many programs to choose from in the area of Education! You should really check them out! It is helpful to "figure out" what area you want to pursue before beginning, but there are some options out there that will allow you to pursue various positions through the same degree. Let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of assistance to you in this journey! Just from knowing what you do on here, I think you are cut out for great things!!!!!! :)

Amy said...

I feel the same way! I know I want to get my masters but I need to get motivated. I would love to teach an evening elementary education class at my local community college. My own children are still so young and need me at home so I keep telling myself that when they are older I will get moving on my masters. It will happen..... someday.

First Grade and Fancy Free said...

I did my masters my first three years of teaching (took three years because I went part time at night). I am SO grateful I did it asap because I think it would be harder to find the motivation and momentum to go back and do it now or later. I got mine in reading and literacy from the University of Utah and LOVED it!

Lesson Plan SOS Teachers said...

Hey Natalie!
Putting the grad school question aside...have you ever thought of going for National Board Certification? IT CHANGED ME AS A TEACHER!!!!! (I hope to post about it soon too!) Many states and districts have awesome financial benefits for NBCT's. I learned about teaching through grad school but NBC CHANGED me as a teacher! It is grueling but so worthwhile!
Good luck! :)

Mrs. McHaffie said...

Well, here's so more advice! :)

I just graduated this May with my Master's in Reading and Literacy through Walden University (online) and I LOVED IT!!!! I started my masters as I was just going into my second year of teaching and decided on an online course so that I could work at my own pace at home. It was really not as hard as I thought it would be. Sure there were tiring times, but the professors and Walden staff members are awesome and are really there to serve you.
If you'd like any more information on me just let me know! I think you should go for it. I feel so accomplished now that I worked hard to receive the degree. I'm now looking to get my specialist degree! woohoo!

Kelly
Beg, Borrow, Steal
www.mchaffiek.blogspot.com
kellymchaffie@hotmail.com

Kelly said...

I am working on my master's online from AMERICAN COLLEGE OF EDUCATION. I really wanted to get my master's from Ohio State University. But then a sweet lady stepped in and said: the place you get your master's from is only written on the piece of paper. You will ahve to work your rear end off if you go there. You have two kids and a career that you are doing while getting your master's. The pay increase is the same no matter where you get it. I would go somewhere besides OSU and still learn and be happy but NOT overwhelmed. Hence ACE. And I can afford it without debt!

Anonymous said...

I completed my masters in education online from Indiana Wesleyan University. It was a refreshing experience, I'd done some online courses but nothing like this. We had weekly devotionals and tied curriculum to Christian values while in the public education system. All of my professors were excellent. I was also very fortunate to have 3 coworkers going through this program at the same time.

Casey Orr said...

It is a very confusing decision! I wasn't sure of what to do until I went to a graduate school fair. Talking to different universities really helped me. I began my first semester in the Curriculum and Instruction program at Dallas Baptist. In my very first class, many of my classmates were in the MEd Reading/ESL program, and after talking to them more in depth, I was sold on it. I switched degree programs, and I've loved every bit of it. I'm also really excited about getting my reading specialist certification. My program is a mix of in-person and online classes. I know most people love online programs, but I have preferred the face-to-face classes. The discussions with other educators are wonderful. Best wishes with your decision!

Gracehopper said...

I have been struggling with the same indecisions! :P The honesty of your post has inspired me to go ahead and get moving! I was stuck between a school down the road and an online program thorough UND. A mentor graduated from UND and a friend is currently going through the program and loves it! Thanks for inspiring me to stop treading and start swimming!

According to Ashley said...

I'm in my third year of teaching and currently in grad school at a university near home (UNC-Chapel Hill). It's time-consuming, but so worth it! I have class 2 nights per week, so I leave immediately after my students are dismissed and drive for an hour to get to class. Then I sit in class for 3 hours and drive home. :) I'm learning so much, though, and it's super meaningful because I chose to go back and I'm paying for it with my own $$, ya know? I'm in a K-12 Literacy program because I love teaching reading, and I can see myself as a reading specialist at some point. Hope that helps!

Angela said...

I'm working on my masters through an online program at Northern Michigan University. They have several online programs to choose from. My decision was easier than yours, since I always knew I wanted to go for a MAE in Reading. I've really enjoyed the program so far! :o)

Mrs. Lopac Teaches...

Megan said...

As with everyone else's posts I definitely agree that going back to get your master's degree is worth it. I am currently working on mine in special education. I'm doing it through Western Governor's University. It is online, nationally accredited, you work at your own pace, speak weekly with a mentor, have access to discussion boards and course mentors as well. I'm really enjoying it and would be more than willing to speak further about my experiences. It has provided me the flexibility I needed while allowing me to further my education.

Megan
mcninch1@gmail.com
Blackboard and Beyond

Chez Zizi said...

I did it. I was a speech major back in the day, worked in a family business and never went back to school for the Masters. Fast forward 5 years and I had kids and the whole shabang, hated working for my parents and had an opportunity to work in speech with children with autism. Took it, the catch was during a 5 year period I needed to get my Masters. I didn't do it in speech I did it in Special Ed. Best decision I ever made.
I did it through a local teachers center, classes were at night 1 or 2 times per week (that's all I could do, after all I had kids and a job). I finished and now I am in the classroom. Starting October I will do a School Building Leadership program ever Saturday from October to June and then my internship (which I will do in my school).
It is hard but it is worth it. This will also complete my +30. Good luck!

Chez Zizi said...

Also, it is good to get the Supervisor certification even if you don't want to be a principal. Here in NYC to be the supervisor of say, the curriculum department you need that certification, or the autism department, or special education. So it doesn't have to be a principal but any supervisory position within a school district.

Zizette

Anonymous said...

All I can do is give you my experience... I am nowhere near as experienced as you, I am currently in my 3rd year teaching PK and Kinder at a small Title 1 school, but my official title is t.a. because I do not have my degree yet. I am enrolled in an online school and will have by bachelor's in about one year and then I can move on to my certification. First, I attended Uniersity of Phoenix (very wide variety of degrees) but now am attending LeTourneau University based out of TX (where I am). I LOVE IT! Between teaching, coaching, and a baby on the way, the online classes allow me flexibility. I don't have to schedule around class times. As long as you are self-motivated enough to get the work done, the online classes are a great way to go. Hope you can make a decision!!

Sara said...

Your thoughts sound exactly like yours. I struggled to even start my degree because many of my colleagues had gone through programs where they felt like it was a waste of money. I finally found a great online program at the University of Missouri - Columbia in Technology and I love it. I am able to apply what I am learning in my 6th grade classroom and it is relatively inexpensive compared to other universities in the area (about $1000 per class). Hope you find something you like!

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