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School’s Out–For Good This Time

June 14, 2014

Cue the pomp and circumstance—I finished my Master’s degree.

Student teaching and my final course as a Master’s student wrapped up in the first week of May, and…that’s it! I was done. I started this program nearly two years ago, and have been taking classes non-stop except for 2 week breaks at Christmas each year and a one-month leave of absence I took last summer. It was an online program, so I’ve submitted homework and logged in to discussion groups from all around the globe—in hotel rooms, in airports, on cruise ships, and at home, but never in a traditional classroom setting. I never met any of my professors or fellow classmates. But through it all I was learning, earning credit, and moving towards one of my long-time goals—a Master’s in Teaching. Now it’s done, the achievement’s been unlocked, and I might actually be done with school forever.grad

I’m glad—I don’t want to be a student forever, though I know I’ll never really stop learning. I have no designs on a Ph.D. or a career change that might necessitate more school. But along the way, through 19 years of school, I’ve gotten rather used to it, and it does feel strange to not have any deadlines hanging over my head. To think I might have written my last essay. For two years I’ve been in the routine of clicking on a familiar button and logging in to my current class almost every single day to submit something, contribute to discussion, or just do some readings. I’ve become accustomed to large sums of tuition money being debited from my bank account every 8 weeks, the price I had to pay for a graduate degree. But it’s all over now, which for me is both cause for celebration and bewilderment.

The weird part is that it all ended so suddenly, and with so little fanfare. Every other graduation I’ve experienced has been marked by ceremony, celebration, nostalgic tears. I remember wearing the caps and gowns, enjoying the after-parties with friends and family. But this time things just ended, and I was honestly more excited about my impending flight home and reunion with my husband than about the fact that I’d just accomplished a life-long dream. My diploma came in the mail after I had already left, so I haven’t even laid eyes on it yet, let alone had it framed or hung up on display. The only person who gave me a gift or a card was my husband—he gave me a necklace with a little pink apple on it, my first apple as a teacher.

It’s not that I really wanted more celebration than this, it just feels a bit strange to actually be done, yet not have had any kind of ceremonial closure. And at each educational milestone prior to this, there’s been another stage waiting in the wings, so I was never truly done with school. Now? Aside from whatever “professional development” courses I might have to sit through in the future, I’m really and truly done. The education section of my resume is complete.

What’s more, there are no longer any asterisks next to my qualifications—I’m a teacher. Trained, certified, tested, and now legitimated by a piece of paper sitting in a drawer somewhere in my parents’ house. To be honest, that’s the thing I’m most excited about and proud of—not the degree itself, but the fact that no one has an excuse not to hire me anymore (well except for my limited years of experience…).

So here’s to this summer, the first summer of my life when I have not had to worry about going back to school (as a student, that is). Here’s to someday soon having money coming INTO my bank account every month, instead of out. And here’s to my future students, who I hope will follow their dreams and see them through, just like I did.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. thelittlemerskank permalink*
    June 16, 2014 8:17 am

    Congratulations, Cindy! I am with you, because I also feel that with each degree I earn, the amount of fanfare goes down. I had a big family party for my high school graduation, a little family dinner for my undergraduate graduation, and… nothing at all for my master’s graduation. I guess it is a bit like birthdays, the earlier ones were always the biggest deal, and after a while, we start to take for granted that it is that time again…

    • June 17, 2014 9:52 am

      Well I think you should have a big bash when you finish your Ph.D. I’d definitely like to attend. 🙂

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