So You Want to Go Back to School… (Lessons Learned)

I was recently asked to share some thoughts on my recent completion of my Master’s Degree. I returned to school for my Masters several years after completing my Bachelors’ Degree – 13 years. I love learning! I enjoy reading and acquiring new skills and information. This being said, I had struggled with the decision to go back to school – how would I EVER find the time! And what program would I pursue? When I found the program at Nova Southeastern University I could begin to see the possibility of my completing a graduate degree – all courses in this particular program were offered online. How critical this was to my completion of my degree I would not realize until later. The curriculum was just what I had been looking for – a good balance of technology for education and use of social media. I could see my using the information I was learning right away. And I did! It seemed that whichever course I was into at the time was correlating with something we were doing here at Networks. Lesson One – pursue your passions!

My biggest struggle in returning to school – getting my brain used to rigorous research and writing. It is amazing how “out of practice” we get at these things. It definitely took some adjustment on my part. But this was one of the things I enjoyed most about returning to school – it forced me to find the time to research, and keep up to date with, information relevant to my field. It is the one thing I am extremely pleased about with my alumni status from my graduate school – continued access to their library! Lesson Two – never stop learning!

Some think online learning is easy – it is not. Learning online is not for everyone. It takes discipline. You have to carve out the time to get the work done. The value of online learning comes in your ability to learn wherever, whenever, and however you need to. My father was diagnosed with cancer a short time into the program at Nova, and his care took increased amounts of my time. The fact that the Nova program was online is actually what made me able to continue. As long as I had an Internet signal I could take my work with me and get it done. My dad would actually ask me “so what are we learning this semester?” I think he enjoyed the stimulation of his mind as much as I did. He was my biggest cheerleader and sounding board that I had! I could not have completed the course without him. Lesson Three – we all need cheerleaders when we try things that challenge us! Even so, I did have to take a semester here and there as a break due to things happening here at home.

I completed my degree – a Masters in Information Technology in Education – in August of 2015. My only regret was the absence of my cheerleader – we lost my dad to cancer one month before completing my degree. Not only was it a great sense of accomplishment, but it gave me knowledge and skills that I will use throughout my career. Due to the recent loss of my dad, I didn’t feel much like celebrating. My Networks’ family celebrated my accomplishment along with me – I also could not have done this without them. They reminded me of my next lesson. Lesson Four – take time to celebrate your successes!

If you have a dream that you would like to pursue, take the time to do it. I would have regretted not completing this life goal if I had not taken the opportunity to do so. Thank you Networks for the opportunity you presented me. Thanks also to my family and Networks for the support and encouragement you provided. For others thinking of pursuing their passions — is it a lot of work? Yes. Is it worth it? DEFINITELY