Going back to school

Almost a year and a half ago, I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and a minor in Creative Writing. It took me eight and a half years, and it was sometimes hard to find the motivation to finish. My job at the time only required an Associates or equivalent number of college hours. I had learned everything I needed to learn. There wasn’t any reason to finish other than to get the credentials.

I knew I wanted to take a year off before deciding what to do next, and at the time I didn’t see any good argument for getting a Master’s degree. As far as a career goes, there’s no job I want that requires that credential. I like what I’m doing right now, and while I may want to teach someday, that sounds like a good thing to pursue a few decades from now.

But over the last few months, I’ve been evaluating what exactly it is I like about my job. Which parts are my favourite, and which do I dislike? In reflection and talking with a few people, I think the parts I like best are those that involve project management. I like identifying a need, and coming up with a solution for that need, and piloting the idea, and putting together a system, and taking something from beginning to end.

I feel like I manage our small projects pretty well for the Open-Access Labs, but when friends have asked me for project management advice, I’m at a loss. I don’t know how to come into the middle of someone else’s project, I don’t know the right questions to ask, and I don’t know how to really help someone. In talking with other project managers, though, I’m fascinated by the stuff they do.

No spoilers here, but today I remembered a scene from the first episode of season three of Game of Thrones. Jon Snow is asked what he wants to be, and he says, “Free.” The person asking him tells him he’s lying and says that what he really wants is to be a hero. And I think I’m the same: I want to be a hero. I want to help people who need help. I want to help non-profits get from point A to C, or help churches achieve their goals. Over the last few years that I’ve been helping Vineyard with some stuff I’ve seen that one of the major hindrances is just having someone who can handle the organization and administration and management. It might only be 20-40 hours of work to make something happen, but a church may not have anyone with those administrative skills.

And I don’t have all the skills I need to do that. If I’m really going to help people the way I want, I need to learn more. So, a few weeks ago, I met with the head of a master’s program at Missouri State University, and then I applied, and then was accepted, and last night I registered for classes. This fall, I’ll start a Masters of Science in Project Management.

At the same time, I’m going to get a graduate certificate, the Educational Technology Specialist Certificate. I’ve checked with all the departments involved, and the Graduate College, and my plans are solid. I want to help with non-profits, but I’m also excited with how this will help me manage better at work. We’re going to need more and more project management in the coming years, and that’s stuff I love. I think some graduate-level courses in educational technology will really help me with working in higher education.

I ordered my books today for the fall, saving about $140 compared to our local bookstores. It’s funny how you can save money if you have money… when I was starting my undergrad, I had to buy from the university bookstore because I needed to defer the cost. Now, I can pay for them from the checking account, but save a bunch of money in the process.

There are some other exciting things going on at work, but I really just wanted to announce that I’m going back to school. It’s flabbergasts me that a Master’s degree, which I view as so much more valuable than a Bachelor’s, will take me a quarter of the time I spent to get my BA. Two years? That’s nothing compared to what I’ve done in the last ten.

More on the work stuff in a week or two, maybe, once we get into the summer. I’ve been swamped right now and having trouble to find time to talk with people, let alone blog, but hopefully I can share more of that in the coming weeks. I’ve also had some conclusions and changes with my pen pal project and PAX and some other stuff. More when I’ve got time, hopefully not long from now.

4 thoughts on “Going back to school

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