I know what you’re thinking.
Why on earth would I go back to school?! I have a Doctorate! Plenty of us go back – for an MBA, or a graduate certificate, or a Masters in this or that. Almost 10 years after earning my doctorate, I’m back to school, earning a Master’s of Science degree in Regulatory Science. (Most folks cringe when I say that, so if you cringed, you’re in good company.)
Some things I forgot. Some things are new.
I forgot how much work goes into just one class. I’m currently taking one class per semester, which doesn’t sound too bad… Except that I have a full-time job this time around. Oh, and I have other things I like to do! It’s been an entirely new experience this time, balancing work, school, family, and fun. And at least for me, the learning is done in a virtual classroom with professors and students I’ll probably never meet face-to-face (thank goodness for Skype!). I’m older now, closer to 40 than 30, I have a mortgage to pay, and my priorities are a bit different than when I was 22 and heading into graduate school.
But I also forgot how much fun it is. And quite frankly, it’s a truly rewarding experience. My program is at Johns Hopkins University, and my classes are full of other working adults. And by far, everyone I’ve interacted with or teamed with on projects, has clearly made schooling a priority. The professors know that their students are working professionals, which is reassuring and even helpful at times. For the most part, the professors are fantastic, and I feel like I’m really getting my money’s worth.
That said, something to consider is the cost. Going back to school isn’t cheap. A Masters program can cost upwards of $40k when all is said and done. Professional certificates are shorter, cheaper, and are often offered alongside many Masters Programs as an alternative. A lot of companies have tuition reimbursement programs, which can take some of the bite out, but still unlikely to cover the entire cost. And some companies require that you stick around for a year or two once the degree is completed, or you have to pay it back. I’d suggest looking into your employer’s policies.
Dare I say that I’ve gotten quite used to it. I even find myself a little bored in between semesters, just waiting for the next class to start. So I pick up other hobbies – I just wrote and self-published my first non-science semi-fictional book! Well, it was a novelette. But it was a lot of fun. I think I may write another…