Author Topic: Who has gone back to school after a long break?  (Read 4683 times)

Villanelle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2141
Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« on: November 02, 2014, 06:58:29 AM »
In January, unless I chicken out, I'll be starting work on a graduate degree.  It will be online, through a reputable non-profit school with a strong brick and mortar history.   I'll be using DH's GI Bill, so it will be free to me (other than the use of the resource which will mean it is unavailable for later use, though I likely won't use the whole thing and DH already has an MBA).

The thing is, I'm really worried.  I am not 100% convinced I want to be doing this.  Mostly, I am doing it because the 9 year resume gap I'll have from living overseas is going to be brutal.  (To head off the "just ER!" folks, I *want* to work for at least a while longer, for many reasons.)  School seems to make sense. I am limited to online, which limits what degrees are available.  I loved books and reading, and I volunteer in a library, so I looked at a Masters in Library and Info Sciences.  After seeing the many things besides working in a public library that one can do with such a degree, I decided it was a decent fit.  But it's not like I am "ZOMG!" in love with this, and that is it my lifelong passion.  It's a reasoned, semi-practical decision.

I'm worried that is going to make it even harder for me to crack down and actually do this.  It will have ben about 13 years since I finished my undergrad. 

Any success stories?  Horror stories?  Cautionary Tales?  Words of Wisdom?   Face punches?

DocCyane

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 389
  • Location: USA
  • Keep going. You're doing just fine.
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2014, 07:03:09 AM »
It was six or seven years between my masters and doctorate.

I found my graduate degrees easier because I had the maturity I didn't have as an undergrad to focus on a goal and achieve it.

I had the ability to break down what seemed like a massive undertaking into tiny pieces, concentrating on what I needed to accomplish that day.

Just remember what Mom said. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.

DecD

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 298
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2014, 07:27:17 AM »
I worked for three years between masters and phd.  The first semester back was an adjustment- homework took about 3x as long as it should have, just getting back into the swing of studying.  But once I readjusted it was probably easier- I had become a more efficient worker.

Probably the hardest part was on my ego- I went from being a respected colleague/knowledgable member of the workforce to being considered an ignorant peon grad student.  That was kind of annoying. 

MsWillow

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 132
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2014, 08:14:06 AM »
I worked on Master's while working during the day, in an evening program. It was hard, I felt rusty but am so glad I did it.  The online component may be better for the awkward or out of practice feelings of going back to school. Is there a penalty if you don't finish?

rocketpj

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 646
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2014, 09:00:47 AM »
Compared to working, school is a breeze.

When I was 20 I dropped out of college.  My grades were great, but I just wasn't interested in the process.  7 years later, after working a few different jobs and otherwise exploring the world (backpacking) I went back and finished two degrees.  I found the life fantastic, I was able to completely ignore the vast majority of the bullshit, take the courses that interested me and all the while feeling like I was on vacation.

RFAAOATB

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 542
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2014, 09:47:20 AM »
I just finished my MPA starting 8 years after my BA using my GI bill.  It can be done.  I would reconsider where you are going and look for a school you can attend at least one class in person for.  I want you to get the max housing allowance you can while still keeping your full time job.  For my program two in the summer or three in the fall or spring terms would max it out.  I only did three classes once and it was a lot when adding on a full time job.  Two classes gave me enough stress and adding one more would have been too much.  My last term I only had one class so no housing allowance and gosh darn I miss that money.

How sexy is a MLIS?  While the MBA sounds sexier they were phasing that out so I went with the MPA.  It went well for me, but since I got some more GI bill left I might think of either MIS or law in the future.  More likely I am done with education for a long time.

Villanelle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2141
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2014, 11:34:30 AM »
I just finished my MPA starting 8 years after my BA using my GI bill.  It can be done.  I would reconsider where you are going and look for a school you can attend at least one class in person for.  I want you to get the max housing allowance you can while still keeping your full time job.  For my program two in the summer or three in the fall or spring terms would max it out.  I only did three classes once and it was a lot when adding on a full time job.  Two classes gave me enough stress and adding one more would have been too much.  My last term I only had one class so no housing allowance and gosh darn I miss that money.

How sexy is a MLIS?  While the MBA sounds sexier they were phasing that out so I went with the MPA.  It went well for me, but since I got some more GI bill left I might think of either MIS or law in the future.  More likely I am done with education for a long time.

I don't know how to quantify the "sexy" factor.  It is the the more updated version of the degree.  They used to be MLS (Masters of Library Science) and to they've added the "and Information" part.  Plans might change after some classes, but right now I plan to focus more on data curation, and data and records management, rather than more traditional librarianship.  So I'd be able to work for a large company helping them figure out how to structure a database or organize other information, or a university assisting with figuring out what records to archive, for example.

In-class is out.  I'll be in Germany and Japan for all but maybe one full semester.  But it doesn't matter because since DH is still active duty, I don't qualify for the housing allowance anyway.   
 
I worked on Master's while working during the day, in an evening program. It was hard, I felt rusty but am so glad I did it.  The online component may be better for the awkward or out of practice feelings of going back to school. Is there a penalty if you don't finish?

There's no penalty if I don't finish, which is on way I talked myself into it.  The deal I made with myself is that I have to stick out any semester I start and try to do well in those classes, but I can quit at any time.  The only thing lost is the ability to use that part of the GI Bill for something in the future.

I do want to finish as soon as possible because they GI Bill is structured to pay for a set amount of time, whether I take 4 classes in a semester or one, I am using up the same amount of the benefit.  I don't want to overwhelm myself, which could lead to me hating it or struggling too much.  But I would also like to use as little of the benefit as possible.  DH has talked about going to cooking school when he gets out, purely for fun, so it would be nice if h could do that, and they would actually pay him a housing allowance to do that!  So it makes sense to save what I can, which means graduating quickly.  I just have to balance that with the other things I'll have going on (including 2 international moves, living in temporary housing for 6-8 months and many other complications).  Right now, my goal is to finish in 2 years, which would use up about 22 months (they don't count any time off, including Winter break, etc.) of the 36 allowed with the GI Bill.  .

rubybeth

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1315
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2014, 11:51:20 AM »
Any success stories?  Horror stories?  Cautionary Tales?  Words of Wisdom?   Face punches?

I graduated with my BA in 2003, went back for my MLIS in summer 2006 and graduated in May 2009. It worked out really well, I enjoyed my studies, my degree was not overly technical and I was working in the field (as a paraprofessional at a busy public library), and I'm glad I did it when I did, because it definitely led to greener pastures (graduated just before the library undertook a massive restructure of jobs and I got promoted in a big way).

I will caution you about the job outlook not being that great for librarians, depending on what you hope to do with the degree, where you hope to work (public, academic, or special libraries), and how much you expect to earn. Things worked out exceptionally well for me, but I know that's not the case for many of my former classmates. I also love books and reading, but most of what I do is project management, budgeting, and customer service. My job has almost nothing to do with books and more to do with helping people. I think my time as a bookseller was better preparation for being a librarian than my degree program, although having the ALA-accredited degree put me ahead of other candidates in the job hunt.

Feel free to PM me anytime!
"Done is the engine of more." - the Done Manifesto

vern

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 543
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2014, 09:51:35 PM »
"Of my fifty-seven years I have applied at least thirty to forgetting most of what I had learned or read, and since I succeeded in this I have acquired a certain ease and cheer which I should never again like to be without."  World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker

LouisPritchard

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 66
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2014, 10:36:15 PM »
I finished my BBA in 2007. Decided to start getting the classes needed to sit the CPA exam this year. Doing it online through Colorado State and finding it way too easy so far.

secondcor521

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1544
  • Age: 49
  • Location: Boise, Idaho
  • Big cattle, no hat.
    • Age of Eon - Overwatch player videos
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2014, 09:10:59 AM »
I finished my undergrad degree in 1993 and went back and successfully obtained my MBA between 2005 and 2007.

As others have mentioned, there is some adjustment getting back into the student/homework/tests frame of mind.  I think it took me part of a semester to make that shift.

I took two or three classes at night, on-campus, in addition to a full-time job.  It was definitely doable for me, but there were some periods of time where it was just get-the-homework-done-to-get-it-done, without much time for thinking, exploring aspects of the subjects that interested me, or doing anything extra.  Another student was going one class at a time and could do that, but he was also going to take six years to graduate.  No thank you.

One other thing to think about going back later -- many of the students may be younger than you.  I was in my late thirties, and so I was one of the older students.  But the school and the program I was in, there were many in their late twenties and early thirties.  I was comfortable with this but it also was something that was a bit of an adjustment.

For me I had set my mind on it up front, and the circumstances enforced that, so finishing the degree was straightforward.  It sounds like you're still waffling a little on whether and which degree you want to get, so I would wonder a little bit about that.

Even though I really did it just because it would be interesting subject matter and to do something different for a while, t's been really good for my career, FWIW.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: November 03, 2014, 09:12:57 AM by secondcor521 »
Like Overwatch?  Check out this YouTube channel:  http://bit.ly/AgeOfEon

dude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2088
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2014, 09:54:10 AM »
I had a 7-year gap between High School and college (military enlistment).  It was the best thing I could have done at the time; I simply wasn't mature enough then to succeed in college (hell, I didn't "succeed" in high school beyond athletic accolades and just barely graduating). Spent the next 7 years kicking ass in undergrad and law school, and didn't enter the real working world until age 32.

BaldingStoic

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 83
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2014, 10:44:11 AM »
I started on on-line MBA program at age 36.  I had two young children at the time (including a new-born, so the biggest sacrifice was the time away from the kids.  However, this was also precisely what led me to pursue on online program rather than a brick-n-mortar executive MBA.  It meant that a least I was home with the kids even though preoccupied with my studies.  Grad school is certainly a lot of work, but I enjoyed the vast majority of my classes and the associated learning.       

One word of advice is to get a good math refresher, either with one of the online MOOCs (Coursera, Udacity, EdX etc) or Khan Academy.  Beyond that just put your nose to the grind stone and commit.  You'll be done before you know it and given the fact that tuition is covered for you under the GI Bill, it's guaranteed to yield a positive ROI; You can't go wrong as long as you see it through. 

Best of luck Villanelle and thank for your service to this country!
Striving to live simply in San Diego

Cpa Cat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1536
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2014, 11:18:58 AM »
6 year gap between BA and Masters.

I didn't have a problem jumping back in. My goal was to go full time and finish as quickly as possible, so I took as many classes as I possibly could (including one semester doing a full time internship with a commute + two classes).

I got a -lot- of pressure to reduce my class load throughout my Masters, despite the fact that I was pulling a 4.0 all the way along. I had to find polite ways to say, "I'm an adult and I make adult decisions. I can handle an adult schedule. Every extra day I stay here is costing me adult money."

Villanelle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2141
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2014, 02:55:16 PM »
I started on on-line MBA program at age 36.  I had two young children at the time (including a new-born, so the biggest sacrifice was the time away from the kids.  However, this was also precisely what led me to pursue on online program rather than a brick-n-mortar executive MBA.  It meant that a least I was home with the kids even though preoccupied with my studies.  Grad school is certainly a lot of work, but I enjoyed the vast majority of my classes and the associated learning.       

One word of advice is to get a good math refresher, either with one of the online MOOCs (Coursera, Udacity, EdX etc) or Khan Academy.  Beyond that just put your nose to the grind stone and commit.  You'll be done before you know it and given the fact that tuition is covered for you under the GI Bill, it's guaranteed to yield a positive ROI; You can't go wrong as long as you see it through. 

Best of luck Villanelle and thank for your service to this country!

It's my husband's service, not mine, but I'll pass along the sentiment.  Thank you.

Thankfully, in a library and info science program, there is unlikely to be complex math involved.  At least I hope not, because I definitely forgotten nearly all math beyond basic algebra.  But if I find I take a path that ends up needing some math (perhaps some programming stuff if I get too heavily into the database side of things?) I can take a semester off and get some refreshing, if necessary.  I'll file that possibility just in case.

mamaof4

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2014, 03:34:27 PM »
I am set to finish my Masterís in Special Education in May 2015.  I graduated with my undergrad in 2001.  I have found college to be a completely different experience as an older than average student.  I am also in an online program and it works out well for my family.  I have a full-time job and a part-time job a couple nights a week, and I have 4 children.  My schedule gets hectic but college has been a rewarding experience.  I think my life experience plays a big part in my success, I am focused and committed unlike when I was a 20 year old kid.  I have also worked in the service industry and I look at my classes as my ticket outta there!  Good luck in whatever path you choose!

jaboc84

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2014, 04:47:08 PM »
I would be less concerned with managing the workload of going back to school, but more concerned with objectively evaluating your reasons for pursuing another degree. Do you really need to get a degree to re-enter the workforce? Should you be investing time and money (even if it's not yours) to study something you are not that interested in.

With online programs you lose a big benefit of traditional programs - the network. I'm in an online Master's program right now and feel very removed from my classmates. While I have been able to leverage contacts from my BS to help advance my career, I don't see the same thing happening with this degree. An online program is all about the skills and knowledge learned in the coursework, so I suggest making sure you are excited to learn deeply from the coursework you are going to study.

Best of luck.

MsWillow

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 132
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2014, 09:59:38 PM »
I agree with everyone above, life experiences and maturity are such a huge help when pursuing a graduate degree. I feel like I do best when I am learning something new, so I love school and teaching. I think you will appreciate the challenge and the benefit of doing something for yourself. It feels awesome to complete a Master's Degree in so many ways. I have not yet used mine, other than the increase on the salary schedule. Is there another program you may be interested in? What was your major as an undergrad?

Zoot Allures

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 188
  • Age: 47
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2014, 12:02:44 AM »
I didn't get my bachelor's degree until I was 26. About 10 years later I went back to school to get an MFA in writing--mostly for personal reasons, but I was then pleasantly surprised to find out that my advanced degree earned me a bump in pay at work and helped qualify me for a promotion. I know other people in their 30s or 40s who have gone back to school--often online--for a master's degree, purely for professional reasons. Smart investment if you do it right.

rubybeth

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1315
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2014, 07:03:31 AM »
I would be less concerned with managing the workload of going back to school, but more concerned with objectively evaluating your reasons for pursuing another degree. Do you really need to get a degree to re-enter the workforce? Should you be investing time and money (even if it's not yours) to study something you are not that interested in.

With online programs you lose a big benefit of traditional programs - the network. I'm in an online Master's program right now and feel very removed from my classmates. While I have been able to leverage contacts from my BS to help advance my career, I don't see the same thing happening with this degree. An online program is all about the skills and knowledge learned in the coursework, so I suggest making sure you are excited to learn deeply from the coursework you are going to study.

Best of luck.

I feel I can respond to these concerns because I have the degree that the OP is going back to get. :) You literally cannot become a professional librarian without the MLIS degree, so if she wants to enter the workforce as a professional librarian, this degree is required. The MLIS is even legally required by some states for certain library jobs (in my state, it's required for library directors to have it).

The degree is also flexible. It will allow the OP to do what she's interested in, and will give her the necessary training to do these jobs, and also other jobs that are somewhat related. An MLIS is a good, relatively easy, relatively inexpensive (not usually as many credits) degree to obtain as a good foundation for a variety of jobs involving information.

I'm pretty sure the OP isn't currently living where she eventually wants to get a job, so an online program really is her best option. If she eventually wants to start applying in a specific geography, there are professional organizations she can join in order to make contacts in that area (for example, she can attend local and state library conferences, training sessions, or join that state's professional organization, which would be like a sub-branch of the American Library Association).
"Done is the engine of more." - the Done Manifesto

Villanelle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2141
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2014, 06:58:10 AM »
I would be less concerned with managing the workload of going back to school, but more concerned with objectively evaluating your reasons for pursuing another degree. Do you really need to get a degree to re-enter the workforce? Should you be investing time and money (even if it's not yours) to study something you are not that interested in.

With online programs you lose a big benefit of traditional programs - the network. I'm in an online Master's program right now and feel very removed from my classmates. While I have been able to leverage contacts from my BS to help advance my career, I don't see the same thing happening with this degree. An online program is all about the skills and knowledge learned in the coursework, so I suggest making sure you are excited to learn deeply from the coursework you are going to study.

Best of luck.

I don't know if I need a degree to reenter the workforce.  That's 4+ years away.  I don't know where we will be living, what husband's job situation will look like (he'll be employed, but he could be as little as a year from leaving the military, for who know what, or he could be 5+ year away).

I do know that my resume will be week.  My skills will be 9 years old, so getting back in to my old field will be difficult. 

I think having a degree is a good way to hedge my bets.  It's also something to help me feel like I'm making professional progress during this time.  I like working, miss it terribly, and finding out it will be another 4 years before I even have a chance to reenter he real workforce was a brutal blow. School is a way to mitigate some of that, and to make me slightly less depressed about the situation.

I know having another degree won't guarantee a job.  But it really can't hurt.  I've selected a degree that I think isn't overly specific (MLIS degrees are used for tons of jobs outside libraries).  I've been fairly careful about what online program I chose, based on reputation and also on what net working opportunities are still available.  Given that I'll be in Germany, briefly in the US, and in Japan for the time I'm doing this.  Online is the only option. 

It's not exactly that I'm not interested in the MLIS world.  It's that I'm not sure I'm especially interested in pursuing it academically, I guess.  I volunteer at a library. I'm involved enough that I'm basically a staff member.  They have rules that specify, "volunteers are not allowed to do X, except Villanelle".  I love helping a kid find materials for his research project. I spend a couple hours on a slow day yesterday helping a woman find resources to help her young daughter learn about responsibility.  Then I helped with a programming activity I've been very involved in, and I did some research to make a plan for the bulletin board I'll do next month.  I really like all that.  But I don't know that I like sitting in a virtual classroom, talking theory.  Maybe I will, but that's a different animal then doing the work. 

Lookilu

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 101
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2014, 12:06:18 PM »
This question lured me out of lurker status. :)

I returned to school after a long break--nearly 15 years--and I have never regretted it. I completed an online MLIS that allowed me to change professions, increase my salary, and truly enjoy my work. I now teach online part-time for the same program as my side gig, so I've seen the experience from both sides of the fence, so to speak.

Things to consider:

Not all online programs are the same. Some students are happier with a more theoretical program while others--like me--prefer an emphasis on the practical. Both kinds of programs are out there, so be sure to do some legwork.

Many students seem to believe that online grad school can easily be completed on the weekends. (Most of the students who fail my class take this approach, so I don't recommend it.) Like many things in life, you definitely get out of the program what you put into it. If you're conflicted, perhaps this isn't the program for you or this isn't the right time.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions, and good luck!

vogon poetry

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Re: Who has gone back to school after a long break?
« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2014, 12:31:30 PM »
I have an MLIS--and I went straight through, from undergrad to grad so I can't speak to coming back to school at all (yet), but when I decided to go a wise librarian of my acquaintance told me it might possibly be the most boring two years of my life, and to keep in mind the job prospects on the other end; so, don't worry too much about not being entirely pumped about it! You know, at least a little, that you dig the life / job duties, so let that carry you if the going gets tough.
I ended up in an academic position--not where I thought I was going at all, but really decent work / life balance for the most part. A downside is the expectation that you continue to "specialize" and pursue more education. I decided early on that the only way I was going to get another degree was if someone else was paying for it, and I (hopefully) finally have my ducks all lined up to start taking classes for a second masters in the spring ( if funding comes through), and at that point it will have been 10 years I have been out, so feel free to let us know how its going! I hope to be able to commiserate! :)