On more education

When I think of getting a Master’s degree, something tells me that the reason that I want one (so that I can say that I have one) isn’t a good one. I know it sounds lame but I really think my opinion of myself would improve if I have a Masters degree because well, that’s what smart people do: they get an MA, MSc, MBA or any of its variations after their name. And to say that my undergrad education completely succeeded in making me feel like I was completely stupid would be an understatement.

I have two Bachelor’s degrees, one in Honours Biochemistry (aka The Degree That Almost Killed Me, The Reason Why I No Longer Think I’m Smart, Why I Probably Won’t Ever Apply To Medical School Or Get In), and a degree in General Arts (which was actually a very wonderful experience). Some have said that completing the degree is all that should matter but like I was telling a friend, I would rather talk about my sexual history (ok, I know there’s nothing to talk about there!) or my financial life than show someone my transcript. Perhaps that’s how you’ll know I’m in love with someone, if I tell you I talked about my grades with them.

One thing I learned while trying to kill myself in school is that I don’t want to work in a laboratory. I found the whole process very unfulfilling: you work for months, sometimes years, redoing experiments and finally, when your research is complete and you publish a paper or two, you get to bask in the glow of the result of your hard work for two seconds before having to dive back into the research world again. Don’t get me wrong: I am grateful there are people out there who are passionate about research, but I learned that I am not one of those people.

There are some practical considerations to be made, such as what would I want to get a Masters degree in? Business Administration is an option, perhaps, but I’ve never taken a business course in my entire life, not even in highschool, and all these courses that talk about systems and models and analysis and statistics make me ill. When you combine that with my abysmal grades from Biochemistry, perhaps I’ve just disqualified myself.

Before I got my current job, I toyed with the idea of getting a Masters degree in Health Administration, because I figured it would be a way for me to maintain a link to the hospital sector without being a doctor. However, I let my fear that the people evaluating applications would see mine and laugh at it before passing it on to their colleagues for a laugh too so I didn’t apply. Then I got my current job so everything worked out.

But sometimes, I wonder if I will regret being 40 and not having a Masters degree. I know I have no interest in a PhD whatsoever but a 2 year Masters program, perhaps worked on on a part time basis would be right up my alley. It would be nice to use my brain intensely again, to deal with the challenge of turning in papers and doing projects to wow the professor. I wouldn’t mind meeting new people either. I don’t relish exams but Masters are less about exams, right? And it’s not like it’ll be an exam in organic chemistry so really, how bad could it be?

(No, please don’t answer.)

So, I’m in thinking and contemplating mode. I don’t know what I want exactly, but I know I want something. Part of me hopes what I’m seeking is already in my possession but if it isn’t, then I have some decisions to make.

I need a retreat.

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29 thoughts on “On more education

  1. Well, what's particularly wrong if you feel better about yourself because of an achievement? When you've gone through something particularly demeaning, over a period of time, I think it would make sense to show yourself that indeed you are more than that thing, or whoever, tried to make you out to be. Go out there and accomplish girl. You might be very pleasantly surprised.

  2. Hmmm, you might want to speak with a career counselor before you decide…no need to waste a whole yr for nothing…As I have come to know, a masters doesn't really mean much in the Uk but it means the world in naija…

  3. i totaly feel u on this one…im also confused bout what to get my masters in..im currently studyin management accounting, undergrad, but im thinkin masters in accounting wud be quite dauntin..n i actually wanna get my phd too, but my mum is like, "do u want to chase all the men away? do u want them being intimidated by u?" im choosin to ignore her questions….any man that gets scared by the fact that i am, or rather, wud be(hopefully!) very qualified n accomplished can go to blazes!

    good luck wit ur decision!

  4. LMHO @ this post!

    Gal you are too funny! After studying accounting and completing my proffessional exams, my family members came to tell me to upgrade my self again…in there own words:NoLimit,now that you've finished this one,we suggest you quickly do your masters…(before my brain freezes or what?)!…(in my head I was like: well i suggest you go to blazes! do this people want to kill me after this baptism of fire…abeg take a chill pill i'm taking a well deserved break jo!lol…just kidding).

    I just scared them off with "havard"…I said: Ahh i've been thinking about it too o! but I want to go to one of the Ivy league schools…you bet the tution fees I was quoting put the fear of God in them! lol

    Anyways my opinion is we are all students of life for life!

    once we stop learning, we stop living!…Seek proper advice and don't fail to consider what your instinct is telling you as well…with regards to what to study(no one knows you more than you…if you choose to know you…shey you grab my yarns!)

    all the best gal…

  5. tho late, i told a few sec to say a prayer for your and i know that GOD in his infinite mercy will shower her with his strength,

    MBA, well wat can i say, if u really want it , i think u shuld go for it now that u can so u dont start blamin urself later in life…watever the reason behind ur wantin it, will it make u happy? is wat u shuld ask urself gal

  6. I actually felt like this was something I wrote. I had to go back and verify that this isn't my blog. U and I have similar reasons for wanting Masters degrees but I've resolved to just take things one step at a time.

    I actually bought the GMAT study guide but I haven't read past page 10 or so over the past 6 months. I'm just enjoying my current job and glad that I have one. I don't want to go into business sch and then get stuck half way cos I don't like it so I really wanna do my research and try to figure out which career field will be best for me.

    It's best to take ur time now to figure things out and go for it than to rush and dabble into something that will make u miserable in the long run.

  7. do whatever makes you happy but at the same time we have to think of our own children " if we plan on having any" the kind of future that we want them to have good luck <33

  8. Am currently rounding off a masters program, n I dint enjoy it. But along d line I found other things. So really I haven't lost anything.

    Really what do you have 2 loose by taking a masters program???

  9. As someone who started an MBA then stopped (conflicted with work schedule) then is going back again in August, my advice is you have to think it through thoroughly before starting.

    Your reasons are your reasons and they are good enough because they're yours.

    Don't be afraid about what a particular committee will think of your grades… You would be surprised how well crafted personal statements (and you do write well), professional achievements and the element of diversity (they do love a diverse crowd :)) can do to make up for your grades.

    Like Afro said, talk to a career counselor… But my advice is to go for it… At least apply and based on what the replies are you would be able to make up your mind.

    Before deciding to go back for my MBA, I was trying to decide between Law School and Business School… I opted for B-School because I don't know for sure where I will be leaving 5 years from now, and business skills are easier to export than a law degree… So consider all those things before picking a program.

    Good Luck sweetie! And Congrats on taking Honours Biochemistry!

  10. Yepa! Have I turned you into a lesbian becos you certainly told me about dem transcripts lol.

    Are u home???? (Tuesday evening @8.04pm) cos I'm not about to type out that long a*** answer to your question via email.

    Or just call me when you get a minute.

  11. Seeing as it has been instilled in me (once again by the sis) that I HAVE to get an MSc, that is the route I'm taking. I don't know if its because I have to, that I'm doing it or because with the way things are going, your education as a Nigerian in the UK seems to be incomplete without one….(Call it education fashion).

    So fear not my dear, you are not alone on this.

    But, go for it…..''it cant be that bad"…LOL

  12. Well, I can honestly say that you're not the only one wondering about a Master's. I guess the only thing I can think of is, if you want to, you need to do it. Let me tell you that there is nothing worse than waking up with regrets down the road…. So if you think you'll regret not applying or not trying, then you NEED to do it!

    Keep us posted!

  13. I understand where you are coming from. If it will make you feel better, then go for the higher degree! It's better to try and not succeed than to never have tried at all.

  14. There are continuing ed courses you can take online or at a community college/learning centres/universities where you can give business a try. Take one course, see if you like it, and if you do, maybe consider an MBA. Some schools also offer business certificates if you complete X number of required courses.

    Not all MBA students have a business background. My dad majored in sciences in university and went on to do an MBA when he was in his 30s.

  15. I can absolutely relate. If you feel the need for it, do it. Don't feel bad about it. You have to live your life in a way that will make you yourself feel sucessful, and proud of yourself and what's happening in your life.

  16. @archiwiz – congrats on, madame firstie! I guess the fact that people generally laugh when I tell them that I want to get a Masters so I can say I have one is a tip-off that that's not the best of reasons out there. You hit the nail on the head with me sha: I want to prove that I can do it, and completing the darn biochem degree wasn't enough. But what if not getting my Masters in the science discipline isn't enough too?

    @Afrobabe – That's good advice: I definitely won't do something unless I'm 100% committed to it…I don't have money to waste like that!

    Hmm, career counselor eh? I'll have to look into that…

    @Buttercup – Good for you o, going for your PhD. I agree that any man intimidated or turned off you because you have a PhD isn't the sort of man for you. Although you know how it is: you still need to make the man feel like he's needed for something, and not that because you have a PhD you don't need him for anything.

    @NoLimit – lol at your tactic of mentioning Ivy League schools to keep the family off your butt! I do agree about us being students for life but I want a degree for my wall o, not more scars on my psyche from this school of hard knocks! Where are you in the journey—did you get convinced to return to school?

    @ms.emotions – THANK YOU for the prayers!

    Your question addresses one of my fears: what if it isn't enough? Clearly I need to do more soul searching.

    @Iwalewa – What area are you working in now? From what you've said it does sound like we're in the same position. I agree with your "measure twice, cut once" approach to this: grad school isn't easy or cheap…one most know what one is getting into.

    @oyinye – I feel you, but not only do I want to be able to provide for my children, but I'd like to be able to really take good care of my parents. I guess that's an aspect of getting a Masters that I didn't really touch on: the increased earning power alone might make it worthwhile.

    @Oluwadee – You didn't enjoy it but I bet you didn't regret it! And I agree: you didn't lose a thing, you gained more education and probably learned more about yourself through the process of grad school.

    @MsSula – I love your "Your reasons are your reasons and they're good enough because they're yours" because until I read it I didn't realize that that's what I wanted to hear.

    I won't lie that I still face a very strong chance of being rejected outright based on grades alone but if I do decide to go the grad school route I won't hesitate to apply and play up all the other things that I am and have done. Thanks for the encouragement!

    @Abbie – I didn't share any intimate details of my transcript though, only vague stuvs. Imagine what I'd share if you were my man! ;)

    @Naijababe – lol at "education fashion" but it's so true! I hope you can promise me that those famous last words of yours—"it can't be that bad"—won't come back and haunt me ;)

    @Amanda – you're an eternal student! And yes, something tells me that avoiding regrets is a good reason to do something now.

    @ELNG – That quote is true, though when you're in the midst of failure it can be hard to remember it!

    @Cynthia – thanks for the suggestion to get some exposure to business courses.

    @Adaora – *nodding* I really do need that retreat to ponder this!

  17. I agree with you..you do need a retreat, and have a think on this. It will come to you what you want to major in..I've just embarked on getting my law degree, yup, i did a BSc in Tourism & Business Studies years ago and now I've decided the legal path is what i want to take..i questioned myself so hard before I started and now am enjoying it.

  18. i really think you should do the masters in health administration, especially since ur reasons for not wanting to do it doesnt hold water! :)

  19. There are some higher level positions that require that a person does a master's degree. One Masters degree is equivalent to many years of experience, which some job positions will accept.

    Secondly, it is better to do a Master's degree while you're young and energetic than wait till you're 40. It is true that when you get to 40 and you don't have a Masters degree, you may start asking yourself why you didn't just get it…:)

    But you're pretty smart…just for talking about it. It means you're thinking about the most important things and u're serious abt life…lol (is that consoling?)

  20. @ShonaVixen – great nickname by the way!

    I'm glad taking time to really think on it worked for you and now I need to make the time to do the same.

    @solomonsydelle – Amin o! Moms definitely deserve PhDs at the very least.

    @bumight – :) you just go around encouraging people and leaving cheerful comments don't you?

    @Jaycee – lol it is somewhat consoling I guess! I must think more on this regret thing…I guess the bottom line is I need to do more thinking and figuring out before I go start trying to find the money for grad school!

  21. hmm masters sha. like oluwadee..i did a masters and didnt enjoy it but made some friends and learnt other stuff…if not for that i'll say the masters was a waste of money…

    hmm i pray the lord guides u as u decide the way to go.

  22. i sooo feel you on the degrees thing..im in the same both right now and i have no idea what to get my masters in…sucks :(

  23. hey! I haven't updated on your blog in a bit, I've been swamped with homework. I'm terribly sorry about your mum, and I hope she is all better now! About the degree, idk, it's really dependent on your field, but if you don't have to get one, DON'T!! And I guess how tough it will be, really depends on what subject you get it in, and how proficient you are at it. I def. think you should get an MA in English if you are considering that, or Communications. You could totally showcase the 'net as the #1 communcation tool, and submit your blog as a thesis!!

    But in terms of just using your brain, why don't you join a group that gets together and plays puzzle games, or a writer's group, or just a social group of ppl with either similar career goals or personal interests as you?

    Ok, I wish you best of luck!!

  24. Hmmm, on education (masters et al), differing opinions all personal, facts are sacred though; but then, what are the facts?

    @ Afrobabe, i beg to disagree that "a masters doesn’t really mean much in the Uk but it means the world in naija…". Actually, it depends on the industry. a masters (additional to the default one you come out with in my profession) does not make you more desirable in the market. Rather, 'twas your on the field experience that separates (& elevates one) above one's peers.

  25. Im much younger than you but i can sooooo absolutely relate to wat ur saying! I also studied biochemistry as my first degree (very bad decision)…had abysmal grades too and after working for a bit realised (right from uni) that i was all wrong for this learned profession….lol. test tubes and lab coats were simply not my thang…plus it was unbearably boring! no challenges…..i practically knew wat to expect at work every day!

    To cut the long story short sha….im doing my masters now…not because i want to but cos i was pushed into it…i must say though that im loving it and its been an eye opener for me (esp since its in business management…lol).

    Everyone keeps asking y the big shift in career and my response is standard…..i dont belong in sciences…this is what i wanna do, so i'll suggest that you do a lot of soul searching and find wat exactly u love doing and where u fit in…then go for it…..but dont just do it cos u wanna add more qualifications (comin from some1 who wants to do a Phd just cos she wants that pre-fix 'doctor' in front of her name…lol)

    Anyways…..go get that masters degree…like u rightly said…there isnt much exams and u'll meet lots of new people as well…..so wats there to lose?

    Good luck wit ur decision!

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