Friday, February 25, 2011
I can finally hold my diploma!
Today I received something very exciting in the mail: my diploma from the University of Maryland University College with the words "Master in Business Administration" printed on it! I was SOOO excited! I completed the program in December, and have been waiting since then for it to be "official" with the diploma. Now I can truly breathe a sigh of relief-- I'm DONE! Not done with learning, of course, but done with formal education, at least for many years. I like school and love learning, so I'm open to pursuing a Ph.D... someday. If I have a reason to. Right now I am just basking in the fact that I finally completed my Master's, and am a lot more employable than before!
I signed up for the program 3 years ago, when I was pregnant with my 1st child. Now, 3 years later, and on the 3rd pregnancy, what a journey it has been! I chose the University of Maryland on-line program because of the school's strong reputation, and the convenience of classes. Honestly, I had planned to pursue a Master's in Education, because I wanted to teach high school students. But 2 things changed my mind. 1) I started working with high schoolers at church, and it was exhausting! 2) even with a B.A. in English, the new program wanted me to take several undergrad literature courses to align with their degree, and I was not willing to invest an additional year and the money to meet those requirements. Business Administration seemed more likely to get me a job down the road, and since I was already working in an office setting, it would have been a great transition. Unfortunately we moved (my husband got a new duty station) after only 3 classes. Then there was a pregnancy, then a deployment, now another pregnancy and another deployment! So it will be at least a year before I look for a job. We will probably wait until at least the 2 oldest are in school before I can be serious about a career. So it's not a decision I have to make now, and I can relax a bit knowing the degree is completed and available for my resume whenever/if ever I need it.
The best part is, we did not have to take out any loans to fund this. I want my followers to know about some education options available to them, because it can make a HUGE difference. First, many employers will match or completely cover costs for "job-related educational classes." I was working as a secretary at Northrop Grumman, but they paid $8,000 for 2 of my classes, in the hopes that I could transition into lower-level management in a few years. All I had to do was ask! When I became a stay-at-home mom, we had to look at scholarship options. The military has many great awards you can apply to. Most require an essay and some recommendations, which can be a hassle, but could be worth $1,000. There is also a great military program called MyCAA, which covers $6,000 in educational expenses for military spouses. The program was new last year, and is currently under DOD review, so there may be some changes coming up. But it covered another 1.5 of my classes at a time we really needed it. The rest we had to scrounge up out of pocket. Not easy, and it drained our savings, but it was worth it! Now instead of saving for my education, we can focus on saving for the kids! What a great day!