Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Yellow Brick Road continued

I am so lost... I'm studying for the GRE, which in itself incredibly intimidating.  I'm smart, one might even call me intelligent, but I'm far from brilliant and this test seems like it was created for brilliant peeps.  I've spent about 5 hours studying in the past week, and I feel like I'm being badly pummeled. I'm taking the beating because I want to go back to school.  I have a degree in Communication Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.  It was a fantastic major.  I absolutely LOVED my classes.  Just about every single one of them.  I learned about people, cultures, language and how they all played a critical role in our lives. I loved being at UT, in the top ranked communication programs in the nation. I felt it gave me an edge in the career world. 

But so far, I haven't used my degree except in teaching.  And my degree is not in education.  I'm teaching, not because it's my passion, but because it's a means to an end.  We are young, we wanted to travel the world, experience new cultures, and save money and get out of debt so we flew across the world to meet those goals.  But our goals are expanding everyday and I've known since I've graduated that I wanted to go back to get a masters degree. I was never one of those students who couldn't wait to graduate.  Instead, I wanted to stay in my safe cocoon of academia.  It was warm and cozy in there, I understood what was happening. Within the walls of school clear, concise directions and goals had been laid out before me.  For my part, all I had to do was to follow.  Graduation was not an ecstatic day for me as it is for so many.  In fact, I missed my graduation.  (I was traveling in Europe) When the day came to walk across a stage in my tasseled scholar hat and cloak, instead of feeling like a warrior going out into the world ready to conquer, I felt the opposite.  I felt like a newborn baby being born, torn from the inside of its warm protective mother.  I was thrust out of my home of education, a place I had been nourished and coddled for nearly my entire life, and plunged into the "real world."  A world with critical issues, inequities, divisive politics and a general "life is unfair, deal with it" attitude.  I didn't know what to do with it, so I picked up and ran away.  We ran to Chile.  I had always wanted to travel, and Chile was an opportunity for me to give back in a way that I had never done before since it was a volunteer program.  It was difficult, it was cold and it was life changing.  We returned with the objective to teach and make money in Korea.  Chile had put us more in debt than school had.

Korea was the land of promise. The land that any foreigner with a degree in hand could teach English in, make money, see a new part of the world and save save save.  But we had to get Kyle a degree first.  A task that took longer than anticipated, but once it was achieved we were on a plane, together, hand in hand, onto another adventure.  We our in threshold of our second year in Korea, and most likely our last.  It is a year to save, grow individually by meeting personal goals, and to save for travel and school.  I am finally ready to move on to grad school.  I'm thrilled, to say the least.  I can't wait for school again.  Not that I ever really left since I am now a TEACHER at a school. 
But I am struggling.  I am struggling answering the fundamental question everyone asks themselves, "What do I want to be when I grow up?"  And it is a fundamental question that needs a decisive answer for one who is to spend THOUSANDS of dollars on further education.  So this is what I have so far...
  • I am a social scientist.   
    • I love statistics about people.  I love learning about how people interact, how they are persuaded, what makes them tick. 
  • I'm a people person
    • I need to work with people. I'm not a behind the desk gal.  I need interaction or else I go crazy.
  • I want to make a difference 
    • It's cliche, I know, but we have cliches for a reason.  I want to make a difference in the world. I want to know that my being here has been for the greater good. 
  • I need skills
    • although I love the study of people, it only takes a person so far in usefulness.  I don't want to be a researcher.  I want to be useful, not that researchers are useless, but I don't think it's where I'm meant to be.
  •  I've been considering business
    • not an MBA, but a background in business will expand my possibilities and broaden my perspectives. I'm looking at an MA at Thunderbird in Arizona.  It's considered one of the top International schools in the nation.  And they have programs for students without backgrounds in business.
    • I don't have a lot of experience in business, but I don't think I will be passionate about it though.
    • But, Kyle and I would love to have our own businesses some day, and having a business degree would be immensely useful.
  •  Sustainability
    • Recently, I have come to the conclusion I would like a focus on sustainability. Sustainability, with our ever growing world population is a practice that we humans will need to develop more comprehensively if we want to keep from drying up all of our resources and killing ourselves.
  • Community
    • I have an interest in communities, what bonds them, what creates them, what makes them  and powerful.  I want a part in growing communities.
  • I'm interested in too many things
    • I have always loved learning.  I could have gone into a lot of fields and have been happy, I think, and so I am having a hard time just choosing one thing to focus on.
  • Reputation
    • One thing I have been told is important in a school is there reputation amongst their peers.  If a school doesn't have a strong reputation or strong network then it doesn't matter how good your education was, the thousand dollar degree on your wall, is not worthwhile.
Is there anyone out there who can help?  Has anyone attended any of these schools? I'm so lost. I don't even know where to start when it comes to researching the reputation of a school or finding a good school.  I'm looking for advice from anyone who is willing to give it.  Thanks in advance.

I've come along way, I think from when I wrote my original post, "The Yellow Brick Road" and my struggle with the quarter life crisis, but I am far from knowing where my path leads.  And in all honesty not knowing can be fun.  I'm not sure I would want to look into a crystal ball that told me my future because it might spoil the surprise.  I'm learning to be present in the moment, to enjoy the days as they come and to enjoy the journey.
The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination. ~ Don Williams Jr.


Yari said...

What can I say, if I feel exactly the same!!! Right now, I'm on my second year of Law School, and every single day I ask myself what do I want to do with my life! It took me four years after getting my BA that I decided to take the tests to try to go back to school. And it worked! I got in! Still, I wonder and wonder... Am I on the right path? Or should I just get on a plane and forget about everything?

Love ya, guys!

Peter and Leslie said...

Reading this post, two careers came to mind: public health and social work. I don't know if either of those are remotely interesting to you.

I feel the same way a lot about not knowing what I want to do when I grow up.

But one thing you might consider is trying to do an internship (or job...) in a field that you might be interested in before you go back to school. I think a lot of grad programs prefer students to have some real world experience. And one thing I've learned from all my years of school is that learning something in a classroom and actually doing it in the real world are two different things. So, having some real world experience might help you figure out which direction you want to go.

sharon said...

Nessa Dear,

I have reviewed these schools--what you sent me at least--and they all look good to me, but I do not know how to determine the ability to actually obtain a job after graduation or what jobs you would be able to get. Actually, most people do not look at your university once you get in the work world and have experience. Internationally, it could make a difference. Testifying in court, it makes somewhat of a difference. Perhaps it makes more of a difference than I know, in ways I do not know. I've never been turned down either in court as an expert witness or by an insurance company to provide services. Did my degree from UT Austin have anything to do with it? I do not know. So, you see, I have little in the way of guidance to give you. Probably, you will do well regardless of where you go and what degree you get. If one doesn't work well, get another one. You love school anyway. Try not to obsess too painfully on it. It just will involve different paths for you, and really, there is no way to determine what each would involve anyway.

Love, Your Mama