Upon graduating with a dime-a-dozen undergraduate degree in social science, what else was I to do but go back to school? With a background working with children, what else should I do but teach? Noble thoughts, bred from pure intentions but, ultimately, the source of my poorest financial decision: borrowing $20,000 — a paltry sum these days — for graduate school. Below are the reasons for my regret.
The Masters in Education Experience
Talk among your group. Make a chart. Share with your neighbor. Rinse. Repeat. Day after day, filled with useless activities. Actual content was sorely missing from most of my courses. Asking questions and breaking from dogma created another set of problems. A few professors needed to discuss my “attitude” and one told me I wouldn’t “graduate” unless I fully embraced “constructivist” thinking. What exactly was I paying for?
Jobs in Education Aren’t Created Equal
The lack of content made the transition into teaching very difficult. I learned from my mistakes, becoming a classroom management virtuoso — a necessity at the charter school where I eventually landed a job. But it wasn’t enough. My school asked increasingly more of me. As I proved to myself, any group can be taught to behave but at what cost? How much stress can one endure, how many sleepless nights or 60-hour workweeks do any of us have in us?
The Reality of the Teaching Profession
Getting a good teaching job in a public district involves walking a tightrope between enough experience, 1-2 years, but no more; our local districts simply will not pay experienced teachers. I ended up at a charter school, making roughly three-fifths what I would at a public school. Unable to secure a better job during my first two years, I’m stuck; I have nowhere else to go but another profession.
In conclusion, I borrowed lots of money to get a degree that left me unprepared to do my job. Because of high competition for positions, I accepted a less than desirable job; now with too much experience, I’m stuck. What should I have done differently? I don’t have an answer. I suggest anyone considering a Master’s in Education investigate the reality of teaching opportunities before making any decisions.
Fortunately, my wife and I have some financial flexibility. You can read about the plan that allowed us our flexibility in Financial Planning in My 20s and our experience refinancing in Refinancing Helped My Wife Become a Stay-at-Home Mom.