I remember posting online when I finished my master’s degree in 2015 that I was submitting my last assignment EVER! and I would NEVER be in school ever again! Every year when those memories pop up on social media, I can’t help but laugh at Past Casey while looking at the pile of work I have to do.
Since then, I’ve completed a graduate certificate, started another one (which, I ultimately did not finish), and have now started my second semester for my EdD in higher education.
For every program that I worked on after my bachelor’s degree, I also worked full-time in addition to pursuing a degree. During my master’s degree, I worked in a position that required three months of recruitment travel. Which meant I had to be careful to pack all of my textbooks in addition to everything else as I left for Missouri for two weeks at a time.
For the first graduate certificate, I was actually working a full-time job as a Student Success Specialist, a part-time job at a jewelry store, and completing coursework. There were times when I truly questioned my sanity at that point. And, I wasn’t alone in that. My friends and family couldn’t believe that I was able to balance all of that and continue to have some semblance of a social life as well. It certainly wasn’t always easy. But, I’ve always felt that it was worth it.
My master’s degree opened the doors for me to get my current position in advising, which had been a dream of mine since I was an undergraduate student.
The first graduate certificate strengthened my resume enough for me to start teaching. The second graduate certificate helped me to develop some management skills, which have been incredibly helpful after a recent promotion to a supervisory position. I’m not clear yet on which doors the EdD will open, but I love that the possibilities are so vast!
Those possibilities, and the strong desire to someday be Dr. Schultz, are what keep me motivated to continue, even when things feel overwhelming. I’ve had to really work to budget out my time each week to make sure everything is done on time. Wednesday and Thursday evenings are each dedicated to reading for each class. And whenever possible, assignments should be completed one day ahead of the deadline (in case anything were to pop up, I have a grace period).
At the beginning of each semester, I carefully read through my syllabi and highlight due dates, so I have an idea of which weeks will be busier than others for me.
I’ve also learned not to be afraid to reach out to my instructors.
If ever I think that I might be in jeopardy of missing a deadline, I’m sure to reach out to my instructors early to open that line of communication and see what my options are and what assistance they can offer.
When all goes well, and I’ve met or beaten all of my self-imposed deadlines for the week, I can reward myself by watching a couple episodes of my newest obsession: “Alone” on the History Channel—a survival competition show, on which I would last all of one hour on as a competitor. As I watch, I’m realizing just how grateful I am that I’m not alone on my academic journey!