In 2010, I enrolled at Full Sail University to earn my master of arts degree in New Media Journalism.
Though it would have been nice to take classes on campus for my 14-month program, I already had my dream job at the time. It seemed silly to quit my full-time job as a magazine editor just so I could learn more about becoming a magazine editor.
Unfortunately, this all costs money; $33,000 to be exact, and thanks to interest and a $250 grad school monthly payment, I have only paid off about $2,000 from 2013 to now. (The worst part of grad school loans is the interest which has eaten away all progress for me by the time I go back to pay off another $250 debt the month after.) You’d think that I would regret going to school for that reason, but I don’t.
For over a year, I worked a 9-to-5 job as an assistant editor at a yachting magazine in Fort Lauderdale and spent my evenings taking online classes and doing homework. It’s also when I tried coffee for the first time — almost 10 years later, it’s one of the many habits I learned in school that has stayed strong.
Grad school taught me to love part of my career I’d overlooked
Coffee isn’t the only thing I fell in love with; I was very surprised to find out, while writing my dissertation on male abuse victims, that I have a passion for researching. I loved every moment of the research and interviews that went into writing it and have been fighting the urge to go back to school so I can do more of this kind of research. (I was also awarded with honors from my research class professor, which is still one of my proudest moments.)
It helped me get a job that changed my life
Earning my master’s degree opened up some incredible doors for me, both professionally and personally. Shortly after graduating, I decided to leave my first magazine job in order to pursue better pay and benefits. I left Fort Lauderdale in order to take a publishing job at a personal finance company in Palm Beach Gardens.
Not only did they pay me better and give me enviable benefits, but thanks to my relocation, I met my future husband via a dating app that my co-workers mentioned during a brainstorm meeting one day.
My first job out of school led to my second
Though things didn’t work out at that particular job, I spent over three years at an incredible company that made me realize what was out there and what I was capable of. Soon after, I was hired as the managing editor at another yachting magazine in Fort Lauderdale.
The pay and benefits the best I’ve ever had, and thanks to this job, I’ve finally traveled to Europe.
My degree gave me confidence I needed
Another major benefit that has helped me in all facets of my life is that my boss has shown me what it means to be treated as an equal and valued contributor. The reason for this (besides having an incredible boss) is that grad school prepared me and gave me the confidence to really come into my own as an editor and writer.
Perhaps other jobs and bosses would have given me the same amount of trust and responsibility if I had the confidence and knowledge that earning my master’s degree gave me.
I’m still glad I went to grad school
Compared to my 2.5 GPA that I earned in my undergrad schooling, I was pretty thrilled to earn a 3.5 GPA and to graduate with honors. (Maybe one day I’ll go back to school again for my doctorate degree so I can finally earn that elusive 4.0 GPA.)
So, while the cost of graduate school still haunts my monthly paycheck — I work for a British company that only pays us once a month — in no way do I regret going to graduate school. In fact, it was the smartest thing I’ve ever done with my money.