A Master's Degree vs. The Job Market

Some might wonder a few things about my Master's degree. Generally the first question is, what is my "major" or degree. I have an MS in Administration with a Concentration in Higher Education Student Affairs, or Higher Education Administration for short.

The next question, or statement, is about what I want to do. People hear the word "education" and assume I want to teach or work in administration in a secondary education institution. That's a tricky question to answer in Higher Ed terms, but I usually explain it that I want to work with college students. Technically I do want to teach, but not necessarily in a traditional classroom setting, I want to teach through advising, mentoring, and experiencing. I want to help students develop into better people, students, and community members, which is a form of teaching. But, I want to "teach" while sitting in a supportive office, not by standing in front of a class (with my current job, I've had enough of standing anyway).

My Master's degree taught me a lot about student development, leadership, administration, and post-secondary/higher education. Student development theory is an incredible thing, especially when you have people around you still "developing" into their identities. My professor for development theory taught the class in a way I really appreciated (although a lot of people didn't, but I'm sure I'll discuss that later). We talked with some guidance, we did the reading and then applied it to activities and discussions, we literally used the theories we had learned about the week(s) before. It was mind-blowing that I could learn that much in just a few hours a week. I miss that about grad school actually.

Leadership and administration are two separate things, not something commonly thought about. My instructor for my Management and Leadership course is a well-respected professional in a local institution, who was  and is amazing. I hope some day to be a leader like her. I also learned about leadership through my Graduate Assistantship, the only one I participated in due to poor timing on a lot of people's parts (including my own).

The next thing people wonder is about my Master's Thesis (if they haven't fallen asleep by the time I've explained the rest of my education). I focused on veterans attending a traditional four-year institution and the transition they experience from active duty to full-time student. Such a small focus, really. There was little research done, and I combined theory along with previous research to provide advice to institutions on how to support veterans. It's really super interesting, if you're me, interested in student development theory or military students, or are somehow related to me. Otherwise it's just a long paper that sits on a bookshelf in the house.

But, the whole point of this rambling explanation is why I even have a Master's Degree. When I started my degree in 2009, a Master's Degree but not a lot of experience was required for most positions. Then the world economy crashed and higher ed. was hit (which many people thought would be safe). Now, especially in this area, most positions want a Master's along with 3-5 years of experience. So, essentially I picked a really bad year to be born and then choose another bad time to get my advanced degree. In other words, I have a lot of expensive pieces of paper sitting on a shelf.


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