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I may not have gone back to school shopping, or stuffed a backpack with new school supplies, but this September I became a student again.
After checking bachelor’s degrees in English and journalism off the list and settling into my career at CBU, I thought my student-shoes would be collecting dust for a while. But when I was given the incredible opportunity to pursue a master’s degree online, I couldn’t pass it up.
Over the next two years, I will be completing a Master of Arts in strategic communication management from the University of Concordia Saint Paul, Minnesota. Over the summer I was in my nerd-glory, ordering my books, sneaking a peek at the chapters, and feeling very excited about the beginning of classes. When the time came to tune into our first live session however; I was terrified. I know, I know, it hasn’t even been that long since I was a student, but the thought of diving back into a program while working full-time and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life seemed daunting.
Thankfully, I’m not alone. My amazing manager and friend is enrolled in the same program, and we’ve managed to keep each other on track throughout the first couple of weeks. Though it’s still in the early stages, the routine of finding space for readings and assignments in our weekly schedule has started to come more naturally, and I’m excited to see where the course takes us.
Taking a program by distance certainly offers new experiences. Members of our program are spread across the continent, and we even have a classmate from the Philippines! I’m grateful to have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others, especially taking into account our geographic differences. Because of the time difference, our live sessions happen at 10 p.m. every Tuesday, so Wednesdays will be fueled by extra caffeine for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, you can wear pajamas to class and no one will ever know. Give and take, am I right?
Although I write every day, something about writing an assignment or class paper adds a level of pressure only a student can feel. Anyone else feel the same? I would love to hear from others who pursued an education while maintaining their career. What techniques did you use to find or create balance in your life? Did you find it challenging to jump back into academia after settling into work?
I have a lot to learn about time management and work-school-life balance, and I have a feeling this experience will teach me much more than what we cover in the virtual-classroom.
Though I’m sure this new journey will take a lot of hard work, at least I can blame my under-eye circles and caffeine addiction on being in grad school! Bring on the school year.
Jill Ellsworth is a writer and communications specialist who lives in Dominion, N.S. Her column appears biweekly across the Saltwire Network. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.