By Tyler Segura
As I grew up, the importance of education was impressed upon me with great emphasis. My parents let me know, in no simple terms, how earning a degree would affect my life beyond what I learned in school. Therefore, the privilege of attending a university was always certain in my life. I worked towards my bachelor degree with some diligence. I studied, made friends, and enjoyed my time as an undergraduate. When the time came to walk across the stage and shake hands with the university’s president as recognition of my achievement, I had but one goal in mind: continue on to graduate school.
My undergraduate education in English provided me with useful knowledge, but my graduate English program elevated my learning beyond what I thought possible. I felt a quick jolt to my system: I had to perform at a higher caliber to succeed in this program than I had previously thought. Every fabric of my learning that I had let fall to the wayside—my procrastination, my lackluster time management skills, and my semi-motivated mentality—needed immediate restructuring on day one. Each syllabus presented what appeared to be an insurmountable amount of reading; every paper triple or quadrupled in length; and all my expression had to represent elevated critical thinking.
Instead of crumbling under this pressure, I adapted and evolved. These were the first useful skills I learned as a graduate student outside of the knowledge I was acquiring. I created better study habits for myself, such as structuring study time into my schedule, studying in the library, and taking better notes. I worked hard to challenge my thinking by asking questions and seeking answers. I improved my writing abilities by truly exploring language and utilizing what I learned in my essays. As I went deeper into the program, each class helped me evolve into a better learner.
By the time I received my MA in English in December 2012, I felt tired but accomplished. Then, in some weird twist of fate, I was enrolled in a Master of Science in Library and Information Science program by August 2013. I felt more prepared for this second round of graduate studies and was excited to continue pushing myself to higher learning opportunities. In this program, I thrived. Every challenge continued to shape me into a more advanced researcher and critical thinker. I continued to refine skills that I thought I had perfected in my previous studies. This graduate experience helped me become the lifelong learner that I am today.
The worth of my graduate education is invaluable. Practically speaking, I am now a more competitive candidate in the job market. I stand to make more money over the course of my lifetime than someone who does not possess the same educational background as me. I can use my education as a means of upward mobility as well. I even know specialized knowledge at a much more precise level. However, my education represents much more than what is practical. It signifies the skills I have gained beyond the traditional knowledge I have learned. I can use these abilities to better myself and the world around me.
Attending graduate school has had a positive impact on my life. The thought of potentially returning for even more study is exciting to me. If you feel it has worth in your life or if you want to push yourself beyond what you thought you could learn, I recommend that you continue your studies after graduation. Challenge yourself to understand what adaptability and growth feels like.