I'm so excited to post this simply because, if you're reading this, I have actually survived grad school (Praise the Lord). It was no easy tasks, but it was something that tugged on my shoulder for quite some time as stated in Delays or Not Denies. I just...(like a week ago) presented my thesis and finished my requirements to receive a master's degree in Dance Education; Teaching Dance In the Professions. Oh, and did I mention that I worked full time (pre corona), did mom stuff, and managed to stay married all while receiving my degree? Yep.. and so can you (if you want). These are tips that helped me press towards the mark and finish strong!
1) Share Your Schedule with the MASSES!
The minute I received my approved class schedule from my advisor, I immediately emailed my supervisors. I had already preempted, that my schedule would be quirky but that I would be willing to do whatever it took in order to maintain 40 hrs and still have Sundays off. I don't play about Sundays and I've been open and honest with every job since I was 14 that Sunday mornings are a no go for me! Tip: It's against the law in most states to force someone to work on days of religious practice Under Title VII, the landmark federal civil rights law). I worked Tuesday- Thursday morning shifts and doubles on Fridays and Saturdays (I was tired boss).
I also shared my work schedule with my professors, so that they would understand if I was running behind due to subway or traffic issues. And most importantly, I let Darryl and my mom know so we could collectively make sure that Oakley's care was always covered. Doing this ahead of time allowed me to see what days (more like hours) I could take for a little self care, date nights, or a day with the gals.
2) Communicate Your Story
In grad school most of the students are working full or part-time and taking classes so simply sharing my busy schedule was not enough... (EVERYONE'S BUSY Lol) I opened up to classmates and my professors about my job, my family and my aspirations post graduation. I was able to make connections and friendships that pulled me through some hard days. It also never hurts to have friends to study with, take notes if you happen to miss class or just remind you of the overall goal that you are all striving to achieve.. the paper (figuratively and literally). Explaining to family and friends especially your significant other your "why" can make a huge impact on the amount of support. At first Darryl couldn't understand why I wanted to go back to school (*whispers* he thought it was a waste of money). When I explained to him the significance it meant to me, what I wanted to accomplish for our family and the role the degree would play in making those things happen, he was all on board!
3) Be Your Own Biggest Critic/Fan
I can be super hard on myself at times (a tiny bit of a perfectionist at times). I had to learn how to balance and give myself grace while striving to be exceptional. Don't get me wrong, perfection is a great trait when you're proofreading but in other areas– sets you up for a hard dose of reality. My first semester I created a playlist called "BOSS UP" on iTunes. Songs from Beyoncé, Nipsey Hussle, Ariana Grande and many more filled my ears on each hour and some change, subway ride from home to work, then work to class, back to home. Some lyrics would keep me pumped up while others reminded me that it's all a process. Challenge yourself but don't forget that even taking the step to further your education and seek growth already surpasses the old version of yourself.
Last week I felt 10lbs lighter not only from the load of work but from the chip that was on my shoulder. Now I'm striving to continue living the life I was created to live without apology. Communicate with those around you but most importantly communicate with yourself.
You got this! Let me know how it goes.