I’ve been on hiatus from my blog (not my clients, not my private practice, and certainly not my family)… simply because “something had to give.” This past spring I was in the final push to complete my master’s degree and write my culminating project.
I can happily report that after three-and-one-half years of diligent, rigorous effort, I earned my Master of Arts degree (Humanities) from Wesleyan University on May 22… summa cum laude. When researching graduate school programs, I knew I wanted to study at a respected institution with a solid liberal arts foundation. With two undergraduate degrees in business, I wanted to complement my own foundation with advanced studies in a different discipline.
Ranked #12 nationwide by US News & World Reports/National Liberal Arts Colleges, Wesleyan is considered a baby ivy (part of the “little three,” along with Williams and Amherst). The fact that I could pursue my graduate degree with acclaimed faculty on a gorgeous brick-and-mortar campus just 15 minutes from my home was especially appealing. Sign me up! It wasn’t exactly that easy, of course. I needed to secure letters of recommendation from previous professors and write several lengthy essays in order to matriculate (the writing part, for me, was fun!). Of course, there was the small matter of about $20K in tuition and several thousand more in books (not a blink when you consider my three sons were all undergraduates themselves at private universities at the time). But I was intent on going.
What an experience! For any adult professional who has been away from the classroom for more than a decade or two and who has possibly postponed or even abandoned the idea of graduate school (or perhaps returning to school to complete an undergraduate degree), I heartily recommend it. The chance to revitalize critical thinking skills from the perspective of academia is a real rush. This is particularly the case when in a classroom (physical, in my case, or virtual, as is the case with many universities and colleges nationwide) surrounded by peers that range in age from 22 to 82 (seriously: in one of my grad school classes, a woman older than me wheeled her elderly mother to class for every meeting. Why? This feisty octogenarian had a passion for learning that simply wouldn’t quit, even though her mobility had ceased). Beyond incredible opportunities for learning (a chance to revisit some of the great authors of the previous two millennia, from Dickens to Steinbeck — if you haven’t read Grapes of Wrath since high school, as I had not, I urge you to take another look!), the rigor of a structured academic program, hundreds of pages of required reading each week, and the demands of producing new material (written, photographic, artistic) on an ongoing basis forced a discipline that is invigorating. Networking with fellow students — and creating valued friendships that will endure for a lifetime — was an added plus. (The opportunity to attract and work with new clients, from fellow students to my professors, was a big bonus for my private practice!)
All said, I’d do this again in a heartbeat. In fact, I’ve begun preliminary research into a doctoral program. But I’ve promised my husband to hold off a few years — at least till our youngest graduates from Brandeis — before I spend any more big bucks on my education. In the meantime, I’ve doubled-up efforts to complete my first novel and am aggressively pursuing opportunities as an adjunct professor (a long-time goal of mine: to teach in a formal college program). The winter should bring some lovely opportunities.
Meanwhile, I urge each of you (whoever is reading this blog) to consider your long-time dreams, those shelved ideas, the idled wishes you’ve never quite given the proper focus. Now’s the time. A million cliches apply: It’s never too late. Carpe diem (with thanks to my first of now three alma maters, Bay Path College). Make the day yours!
– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW — President, Absolute Advantage