I am writing this from 36,000 feet above somewhere between Nashville and Los Angeles, thinking about horizons as I peer out the window and admire the horizon. New horizons, I keep thinking. And that’s why I am writing this particular blog.
As I face the last three weeks of the semester, I’ve reflected upon my journey through college. I’ve gone back and forth several times about “what do I do next?” which includes contemplating a PhD in English, a second Master’s in counseling, or a career certificate – to name a few of the dozen I’ve conjured up. But I always come back to the same conclusion: I’m done. After this semester, though I have to remain enrolled, all I have left to do is write my MA project (thesis). Once that is finished, I am happy to say that I will hopefully find full-time employment (if not sooner than next year) and leave school behind. But how did I come to this conclusion? Here are the three moments I knew it was time to hang up my student hat:
- I care about my classes, but not like I used to. It’s not that I don’t respect my professors and the college, it’s just not as big a priority any more to get A’s. If I can pass the class without destroying my GPA, that is enough for me. I care about the material I am learning, but I am not going to let my assignments take me away from my work and family life. I simply can’t anymore. And I don’t think I need to. If you’ve come to realize that you simply want to pass and move on, you might be ready to consider finishing your current program and thinking about where to go from there.
- When I think about being done with college, I’m not sad or sentimental any more. For a long time, the thought of being done with school gave me the same feelings as when I was 16 years old and couldn’t imagine being without my boyfriend (insert dramatic sigh here). It’s a fear of the unknown, of not having a place or something/someone to care about and receive that care in return. Now, looking back and forward, I know that I am confident in my abilities and my worth – I can move on, knowing that the relationship was good while it lasted, but it’s over. And that’s OK.
- I’ve gone far enough in college (with experience outside of class) that I now
have career possibilities/prospects AND I feel like a better, well-rounded individual. Don’t get me wrong, getting a PhD would be cool. OK, maybe being called Dr. Blake would be cool, but the rigor of a PhD just isn’t on my list of things to do! I’m more convinced of this when looking at the lack of full-time positions for those holding a PhD in English. However, the big thing for me is that I am now qualified for several stable career options with good benefits. Furthermore, I am not the person I was back about a decade ago when I first enrolled in college: I can speak in public, my writing has developed, I’ve gained confidence and tenacity, and I am able to recognize when it’s time to say goodbye. I’ve come a long way and while I am (and always will be) a work in progress, I am content with that progress.
Being in college isn’t supposed to be a lifelong journey, though it does teach you lifelong lessons. And attending college as an older student is wonderful — But it shouldn’t last forever. Furthermore, I really, REALLY miss my children and husband. Yes, I see them all the time and I always make time, but I want more time with them. You may be saying, “Well now you will be working full-time, what’s the difference?” Simple answer: After I clock out, I can go home and live my life. You can’t do that easily while in college.
So, I’m happy to say that I am ready to move on and begin the next stage in my life, are you?