Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Grad school

When I graduated from college, most of my friends were talking about grad school. Some of them were going right away. Others were going to work for awhile while they figured out what they wanted to get an advanced degree in. But nearly all of them had a plan that involved going to grad school eventually.

And pretty much all of them have done so by now. Law school. MPA. MPP. MBA. A couple ambitious friends are even in the middle of PhD programs at the moment.

Me? I was NOT interested in grad school. I always said that the classes were my least favorite part of college. The thing I liked least about them (other than getting up early) was that even when you weren't actually DOING your work, you felt like you SHOULD be doing your work. So if you were out with friends or whatever, there was always a little niggling feeling at the back of your mind reminding you of all the work you still had to do. I HATED that.

So after college, I got a job. I was thrilled with it. It was a fantastic job in public health, and I found the work really interesting. And I loved that after you left at the end of the day, you didn't have to think about it again until the next morning and could enjoy your free time with a clear conscience. And I told everyone who asked that I was thrilled to be in a profession that didn't require a master's degree, and that I was never going to school again.

Except that by "never" I guess I really meant "for five and a half years," because guess what starts today? That's right: the first class of my graduate program.

I don't really NEED the degree for my career, per se, though it will certainly be beneficial. I'm really happy with my job and the work that I'm doing, and so far nobody has ever asked if I had a master's degree or implied that I should get one. But eventually, I think its absence would become more of an issue. And, I work with a bunch of really smart, educated people. Most of them have grad degrees, and it helps a lot. Not just for their career trajectories, but for their true and deep understanding of the science behind the work we do.

What I really want out of this degree is a theoretical foundation for my practical work experience. I've learned a ton about public health, social marketing (NOT the same as social media; see here for an explanation), and behavior change through my work in this sector. I've learned a fair amount about logic models and theoretical frameworks, too. But I've learned it piece by piece, as I've seen it in documents I've edited or discussed it in strategic meetings. And while I know a lot already, I want to connect the dots. I want to study the academic basis for these theories and gain a true, deep understanding of how and why they work. I want to be fluent in this language and instinctively know which framework we should propose for our latest project, based on the desired outcomes.

So I'm going back to school. I'm getting a master of science degree in health communication from Boston University. It's a program designed for students who are also working full-time. The other students in the program will also have demanding jobs and personal lives. So I won't be alone in my attempts to juggle work, school, and family. It will certainly be intense, but it will also be worth it. And hopefully it will be interesting, too. Health communication is the only field I've ever come across that has interested me enough to devote an entire degree to it. And I'm really excited to do it.

The program should take about 18 months. So you can all hold off on baby #2 watch until then.

19 comments:

rosie said...

Congrats, Jess! Sounds exciting!

Pickles and Dimes said...

This is awesome, Jess! I'm so happy for you - how exciting!!

Britt said...

Congratulations! I was also in the "I'm never going back to school" camp and now I'm starting my second semester of grad school. I've found it to be really interesting and applicable. I hope you find the same!

Tess said...

How exciting!! Good luck!!

Melospiza said...

Woo! I'm always (mysteriously, really) in favor of people going back to grad school--especially when it's an embrace of the future, and not an evasion of it. But seriously. I'm almost as excited about this announcement as I would be about Baby #2.

Tia said...

You're going to love it! Grad school is SO MUCH better than college because it is a topic that you choose and study in depth with other people that are also interested in the same topic. I have an MPH, and I use it all the time in my work. Enjoy being a student again!

Mrs. Irritation said...

Congrats - how exciting!!

Heather said...

Congrats, Jess! I'm currently in the midst of applying to grad schools, and I wish you well.

Jessica said...

I LOVE classes. I got my Masters while working full time and although it was exhausting, I enjoyed it. I didn't have kids yet, though, so I can't even imagine how that works. I WAS pregnant and puking all through class my last semester, so that was fun.

artemisia said...

Congrats!!!!!! You are going to love it. And kick ass, I have no doubt.

Alice said...

out of my (sizeable! say, 25?) group of HS friends, i am one of exactly 2 of us who has not gotten at least one graduate/doctoral degree. it makes me feel slightly slackerish when i think about it.... but then again, i have no reason to go back to school, and i'm pretty happy having finally paid off my debt from undergrad :) like you, if i find that it's affecting my job/career? i'll go back. but 10 years into the corporate gig, i'm thinking probably not :) have fun!! everyone i know who has gone back AFTER taking time in the "real world" has enjoyed it far more than those who went straight through.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

THIS is exactly why you should go back for a graduate degree. Because, you have the foundation and have picked up a bunch of pieces along the way, but you want everything to be cohesive and to have a greater understanding. Excellent!

It always pissed me off when people went to grad school, but couldn't explain why they were going. If the degree isn't pertinent to your career or a future change in career, why the hell are you doing it? I'm glad to see you waited until the right time to go - I think it will serve you well in the long run!

Anonymous said...

What fantastic news! I totally admire your reasoning and love when you write posts detailing how you came to a decision. :)

-Steph

LA and BD said...

Very exciting! Good luck - I know you'll do great!

KT said...

Congratulations! Do you have to fly out to Boston for anything school-related or is it solely online?

d e v a n said...

That's great! Congrats!

heidikins said...

So exciting! Congrats, my dear!!

xox

Elizabeth said...

You'll blow them away, and I'm so glad I'll have a grad school buddy to gripe with, if necessary!

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