Due to my husband’s education and career trajectory, I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life surrounded by people in possession or pursuit of doctorate-level degrees. Between world-renowned researchers, PhD candidates, optometrists, and optometry students, many of the people I’ve met in the last six years are some kind of doctor. I became immersed in that world without being a member of it. I participated in research studies and volunteered to be a practice patient. I won acclaim among these brilliant scientists for my black bean chip dip and my banana chocolate chip bars. I’m used to hearing about complex eye-related topics that fly over my head during dinner conversations and weekend cookouts. I’ve laughed over the things that exceptionally intelligent people say while drunk. And through all this, somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve always been aware that I just have a bachelor’s degree, nothing more. Not that I’m ashamed of that. I’m proud of my career and I’m a darn good teacher, but it is weird to be surrounded by people who are or will be doctors, while all I have is a BA.
While I have no intention of trying for a doctorate, it does make sense that I would at least go for a master’s degree. This is was true even before I discovered a desire to pursue counseling, since getting a master’s is the teacher’s version of “climbing the ladder.” However, when I graduated from college, many people advised me not to pursue my master’s right away. As a new teacher in the Midwest, not having a graduate degree actually made me more hire-able. I was cheaper than someone with a master’s. I’ve learned since that the coastal regions of the United States are different. I probably would have landed a full-time job in Seattle if I’d had some graduate work under my belt. Nonetheless, as a first year teacher in the Wisconsin, putting off grad school for a bit was better, so that’s what I did.
Plus, I would have picked the wrong field of study, anyway. If memory serves me correctly, I believe I was toying with the idea of a master’s degree in literature right out of college. I didn’t discover my desire to study guidance counseling until my third year of teaching. If I had gone to grad school right away, I still wouldn’t have the degree or certification I need now to take my career where I want it to go. So it’s better I waited.
But now I do know what I want to do. I’ve researched the universities with school counseling degrees, and I’ve weighed the pros and cons of online vs. live programs. Now I’m just biding my time until circumstances align that will allow me to pursue my goal. The glib line my husband and I tossed around for the last few years has been “when he’s done with school, it’ll be my turn to go back.” My husband now has two doctorates (OD, PhD – yeah, he’s awesome). Now he’s done. In theory, it’s my turn.
Being honest, though, despite my husband’s graduation, applying to graduate school isn’t financially realistic right now. There are so many other factors that will come to play in this decision that I can’t place a real timeline on it yet. Some of our other needs and dreams may have to take precedent over this one. More reliable cars, a house, hopefully kids… Though I won’t stop looking into it, grad school may have to be a “someday” dream for a little while longer, and that’s OK.
Until then, I’ll keep dreaming and doing what’s in front of me to do. I’ve built my career on a sense of uncertainty that could have easily destroyed it. I know what I think I want, but my own ideas and dreams have changed so much in the last several years that even in this, I’ve learned to plan my life one year at a time and let the rest come as it will. I’ve learned that sometimes what I think I want can’t begin to measure up to the reality of what actually happens.
“Someday” will come. Maybe it will be soon, or it may be several years down the road yet. I don’t pretend to know what it will entail, despite our dreams and plans, but I believe that it will be good.