Is An Advanced Degree Worth It? The Key to Staying Motivated

May 22, 2018

Cole Claybourn

Certificate in Transition to Teaching in Secondary Education

Every day I look forward to seeing what time capsules come up on my “On This Day” section on Facebook. It’s usually good for a laugh or two at my clothing choices and hairstyle from high school, and to see what I cared about the most over the years. 

Earlier this week, a post from 2012 caught my attention. “Cole Douglas Claybourn is done with school forever!” I posted shortly after my college graduation. Young Cole. So naïve. 

At 22, I had no intention of entering the classroom ever again as a student, much less as a teacher. In my mind, I was going to work hard and end up in a big city covering major college or professional sports for a newspaper or major sports news outlet, but then…my passions changed

Going back to school can be a drag. It’s not easy, and even those most excited to get an advanced degree probably feel the anxiety that school brings to some extent. While going to college might be considered somewhat of a societal norm in 2018, pursuing an advanced degree isn’t quite to that level yet. For some, going back to school means taking on that same course load and stress you knew in undergrad while managing a life, family, and a full-time job.

My wife is a year-and-a-half into an intensive master’s program online through Liberty University, and I see every day the emotional and mental toll it takes on her. I felt that same stress and anxiety as I worked my way through ACE’s Transition to Teaching program while working full-time. It’s not easy.

So, how do you make it work?

You have to find the joy in pursuing your advanced degree.

That, too, is not easy some days. There will be plenty of days where the last thing you’re interested in doing is school work. In high school and college, it was a little easier knowing that your friends were all in the same boat. A Friday night study session with friends helped lessen the blow of missing a party or get-together knowing you were at least with your friends and you weren’t the only one missing out.

If your situation is anything like mine or my wife’s, you’re likely alone in your circle of friends when it comes to pursuing an advanced degree. Frankly, it won’t always be fun.

But remember, there’s a reason you’re doing this. You’ve chosen to pursue an advanced degree. In a world where far too many people focus on instant gratification, pursuing an advanced degree is the antithesis of that. So while it’s easy to lose sight of your reason from time to time, it has to serve as your continual motivation. 

It’s an old cliché, but pursuing an advanced degree is truly a marathon, not a sprint. Through all the pain and struggles that you’ll endure during that long trek, the moment you cross the finish line and throw your hands in the air is a feeling to which no party or get-together can ever compare.

Are you ready to start your advanced degree? American College of Education offers a variety of degree programs in education at a variety of graduate levels. Explore our programs to find the one for you.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Cole Claybourn
Cole Claybourn, Certificate in Transition to Teaching in Secondary Education

Cole is an English and journalism teacher in Indiana. He worked in journalism for four years before becoming an educator.

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