Hey, friends! Here in Illinois, we’re currently stuck in a polar vortex. My district is on its EIGHTH snow day…what! This is wild. Needless to say, I’ve had quite a bit of extra time on my hands. Recently, over on instagram, I was chatting about my grad school experience and I got SO many questions. I thought it would helpful to compile all of my information and another part of my story in one blog post for easy reference! I think it’s worthwhile to say that everyone’s experience is different…so, please keep that in mind. I hope this helps! As always, I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but I’m trying my best and happy to share my story if it helps even one friend! There were no grad resources when I was trying to select a program, so I hope this helps someone on the grad school search or currently in grad school!
I’m going to answer a few questions I received and chat about my experience along the way!
Q: What program are you enrolled in?
I’m currently enrolled in a completely online (praise hands) Curriculum and Instruction program. I’m on a literacy track, so that’s my focus. I was trying to remember how many classes it is…I believe 10, when all is said and done. So, not too shabby!
Q: What school are you getting your masters through?
I’m going through Western Illinois University. It’s local for me (although all of my classes are online, so that doesn’t totally matter…), but it’s a program my district is very familiar with and I even knew a few coworkers who had gone through the program or were starting it at the same time I was! I knew I wanted something that was accredited (confirm this before you enroll anywhere!), online, and at a fairly decent price. I personally did not want to have to take out additional loans for my masters. So far, so good.
Q: Does your current school/employer pay for any of it?
This will obviously be different at every school, so take this with a grain of salt. My district will reimburse you at the end of each semester about two-thirds the cost per credit hour, up to a certain max each year, provided you receive a C or better in the course. I’m very grateful for this and extremely appreciative of the help from my district!
Q: Do you recommend going into grad school right after getting your Bachelors, or waiting a few years?
Great question. I received a lot of advice from many people who suggested absolutely not starting your masters during your first year of teaching. There are so many other things to figure out during your first year…you don’t want to add one more thing to your plate if you don’t have to! But, to each their own. I personally started in the summer after my first year of teaching. I thought the summer would be a great time to start and get a feel for things. I lived at home for my first year and saved quite a bit of money to put towards this exact cause. I knew I wanted to knock this out as soon as possible so I could continue to move up the pay scale, quite frankly…keep learning, and be able to explore other career paths in my near future. Many of my coworkers recommended starting sooner rather than later. I personally have a lot of free time on my hands right now and it just seemed to fit well in my current life situation.
Q: How many courses do you take at a time while teaching?
I took two courses this past summer, but I only took one class last fall while teaching, and I’m taking one again this spring. In my opinion, some classes have been easier than others. Last fall, I think I could’ve managed taking an extra, but this spring, I’m very grateful I only have one class to balance with teaching full time. Obviously, if you take more classes per semester, you will finish sooner, but it will also cost more per semester. I’m not in a huge rush, so I’ll probably take two again this summer, and then one per semester again next school year.
Q: How do you balance grad work while teaching? Is it difficult to do?
My biggest tip would be time management. I know, I know…you’ve heard it before and you probably were hoping for a more exciting answer, but it’s true. I personally have a hard time getting things done during the week. Many of my grad assignments during the school year have been due every Sunday night. I usually do have to devote a few hours each weekend to completing assignments, but it keeps me busy and I don’t mind it. It does take work, this won’t be easy, but as long as you know that up front and you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll be fine. Don’t procrastinate and make sure you write out all of your due dates so you don’t forget about anything! I’ve found online classes are really all on you…no one is reminding you in class every few days about various assignments, professors aren’t as accessible, etc. Stay on top of things and work as hard as you can!
I use THIS RESOURCE from Jess at The Social Speechie to keep track of all of my assignments! It’s awesome and free! 🙂
I hope this was helpful! If you have any more questions, please feel free to DM me on Instagram, @ALatteLearning, or leave a comment here! I’m happy to help!
Stay warm out there, friends!