At the beginning of January, I began a new semester at The Ohio State University where I am working on my Masters in Inclusive Education. One of the classes I am taking is called the Capstone. The goal is to prepare us for our graduation requirement. Typically that is a thesis, an action research paper, a lengthy and difficult exam or, as in my case, a portfolio.
The goal is to have my portfolio ready for reading by June so that I can graduate in August.
Around the beginning of November, I had a light bulb moment in class. A thought occurred to me and it was one that wouldn’t leave my mind. When I started my capstone class and began to discus whether I’d write a thesis or create a portfolio of my work (it consists of papers I have written during my program plus two larger papers that expand on what I have already studied), I continued to think about that light bulb I had.
I wanted to do more work and research on a certain topic but I also felt like there was something missing from my graduate work. This thinking kept me stressed for a couple of weeks. I spoke with other students, friends, family, a professor and my adviser about my feelings and what I could do.
And today I came to a couple of decisions, one that is going to be expensive.
I have decided that in a few years, I will be applying for a doctoral program. I really want to research how inclusive classroom settings can be a means for societal change. I want to change the way we are educating students with special needs. I do not think it is working to pull them out of class, isolate them from their peers and then expect said peers to treat them equally in social situations. I believe that fully inclusive educational settings provide the means for children to understand that our differences do not have to be hidden nor should they be used against us later in life. I think that changing society begins in the earliest of classrooms and I want to do more research to prove that as well as influencing others that it helps both educationally and socially.
I am excited about this future path but I know that I can not get there until I have proven myself in my graduate program. I am, theoretically just a few semester hours away from earning a Masters Degree yet I do not feel that I’m worthy of it. I feel like there is something lacking in my program. I’m missing some key elements to it and I want to take a few more classes. This means that I am postponing graduation until a later date (either December of this year or May of next year).
This is a rather expensive decision to be making, especially given that I’m already in a lot of debt and struggling to make ends meet right now.
I’m planning to continue on the path I’m on right now. I’m going to look for full time teaching positions for the next school year and maybe postpone my last one or two semesters of school so the district can pay for it. But I’m also going to seek information on possible positions with my university as a graduate teaching assistant. Hopefully I haven’t missed any deadlines. If I can secure a position like that, then I can continue with my studies at a much lower cost to me.
Although this decision may lead me to more debt, I know it’s the right decision. I’d rather have a degree I can be proud of and more debt than one that I technically earned but feel is lacking.
What do you think? Bad decision? Or am I doing the right thing? I’d love to hear what you have to say.
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