Last spring, in the final semester of my undergraduate degree, the last thing on my priority list was applying to grad schools.
I'd been earning my Bachelor's for 4 long years [though it felt light-years longer at the time], and before that, I'd worked my way through a normal learning experience: preschool all the way up to to 12th grade. In the spring of 2012, I was sick of school. I knew that my Bachelor's in Psychology wouldn't get me anywhere that I wanted to go, but my plan was to work as a Resident Director at an area college for a few years and then eventually go back to earn a Master's degree in Higher Education.
Turns out, Higher Education doesn't want you unless you've spent some dedicated time in Higher Education. As I applied for RD jobs, I kept hearing "We like your experience, we like your grades, we like your _____, BUT we're looking for someone with a Master's degree". So I kind of gave up. I figured I'd work inconsequential jobs for a year until my husband finished his degree, we'd move South, and I'd complete my grad work there.
Said husband wasn't for the idea, however. He kept pushing me to look into programs, saying that if I was going to be wasting a year [professionally], I may as well try to get something out of it. I started Googling Higher Education Master's programs, but was disappointed when they all were at least 2 years long, cost far too much money, or wanted me to take the GRE to apply. As I've mentioned, I was burnt out at this point: 2 years was too long for a couple like us who didn't want to be tied down to one spot, our undergrad loans were looming over our heads, and I was sure as hell not going to waste my celebrating-the-end-of-college time studying for a test that cost way too much to take.
Then I came across Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and their online Higher Education Student Personnel Administration degree. It was like a dream come true. Only 10 months long, all online, for a totally reasonable cost, and no GRE scores required! I knew that if I was going to invest my time and money in getting my Master's, this was the place to do it. I started the application late one night as I was procrastinating on finals work. But then life got crazy. As I mentioned, I got married this past July so the two months between graduation and the wedding were so busy. I didn't have time to read the newspaper, much less time to apply to grad school. So again, I wrote it off. I figured it just wasn't meant to be.
Thankfully though, the faculty of the HESPA program didn't agree. I came back from my honeymoon to a voicemail from Dr. Erik Gregory, the Director of Organizational and Leadership Psychology at MSPP, letting me know that they saw the first part of my application, and were wondering why I chose not to complete it. He let me know that the application deadline was pushed back, the start date wasn't until October, and took the time to answer all of the other questions I had. Through just one phone call, my path was changed.
I applied to the program, got accepted, and started on things all within a matter of two months. Since the beginning, I've felt welcomed and accepted by the faculty, which is a hard thing to convey when you're in an online program, but they manage to do it. I've felt supported by my professors who respond to e-mails more quickly than I thought possible, and I've felt valued by my fellow classmates. I couldn't be happier in this program and I'm glad that my winding path brought me to MSPP.