The call of the classroom is one I have always answered. A relentless academic, I have always loved to learn. My college experience was a little different than most since I was double majoring - creative writing and education - but one major was to obtain my bachelor's degree and the other my master's. The creative writing degree was the traditional four-year route, while the master's was an accelerated five-year program. At the end of my senior writing project class after the final meeting, the professor asked me to stay a few extra minutes because he wanted to talk.
He asked me, sincerely, if I had considered attending graduate school for creative writing, and until that moment, I honestly hadn't. I still had a year to go to finish my education degree for which my scholarship wouldn't carry over. I had to figure out how I would pay for that, [*ehem, loans*] let alone another two-year program.
"Well, you're really good, and I wouldn't want to see you waste that talent."
And then I was hooked. Right after submitting my master's thesis to the education department, I started online "shopping" for low-residency MFA programs. I found one that fit me best and applied, and have never regretted a minute of the education I've received. The only thing I have regretted, however, is the financial planning I did - or didn't do - before committing to schools with hefty price tags.
The fact remains that continuing education is expensive no matter where you go, so I've come to terms with that. What I haven't reconciled is if I want to do this again, to do more of it. Through Facebook ads and addictive Googling, I've come across more master's programs in other subjects that pique my interest. Furthermore, the prospect of being able to introduce myself in social circles as "Dr." is quite appealing.
I haven't finished my MFA program yet, but between writing and revising new pages to submit, I open new tabs on my computer and build imaginary schedules at schools across the nation. As I do this, I hear my mother saying "Holly, you will already have two master's degrees when you're done with this. Do you really need to keep going to school?"
The simple answer to this is no. I don't actually need more school to do what I want in life. The benefit of the MFA is that it is a terminal degree in my field, so I will be able to apply for adjunct professorships and teach at the university level. Most of my professors in my undergraduate studies didn't have doctoral degrees. Wouldn't it make more sense to forego the formal education to work on my craft? Wouldn't it be more practical to spend my time working on expanding my publication list than analyzing the hallmarks of comparative literature?
I've rationalized it this way: I will probably go back to school at some point. I just can't help myself. However, I refuse to take out any more student loans. Luckily, I work for a school that is willing to provide tuition reimbursement for up to six credits per year should I go down that route. There are also some local universities here in New Jersey that offer tuition discounts for educators (that's me!) So while I don't need a PhD, I still might get one. Someday.
For now, I will just live vicariously through the rigorous course load I've taken on in my imagination.