the case for graduate school

if you’re reading the blog daily (today would be day four, in case you lost track) you are getting a sense that i am thinking of a million different topics to write about before i explain why i’ve been labeled “half part hippie/half part hip hop diva” by friends and coworkers.  additionally, i’ve got no nom de plume yet either. one day…

i am currently enrolled in a part-time master’s program that focuses on international studies and public administration, teaching both a practical application to theoretical concepts in an efficient, side-by-side approach that an academic/practitioner like me finds absolutely riveting. i have been wanting to enroll in a master’s program since i started to feel like a student while i was in peru — reading voraciously (non-fiction, mostly) and writing extensively for another personal travel blog.  i love school.  i have always loved school and although I could have gotten higher grades in undergraduate had i not been so involved in student organizations, i still enjoyed all the aspects of being a student.  now, i am midway through my advanced degree and its one of the most rewarding aspects of my life. after an 8-10 hour workday, i gleefully skip towards class at 6pm, knowing ill be locked in until at least 9:30pm.  thats what you do when you are passionate about a subject and want to devour as much knowledge as you can.  i feel smarter every time i walk out of class. its an exhilarating feeling.

ive often come across professionals who either don’t see the value in graduate school OR are semi-interested only if the degree they seek has significant return on investment.  that’s fair, to a certain extent.  on the other end though, i strongly believe if you are passionate about what you are studying and you believe in the validity of becoming a sort of subject-matter expert, then graduate school is for you.  it’s an amazing exchange market of ideas, experiences, scholarship and research.  in a world hurdling toward soundbites, headlines and snippets, a master’s degree allows you the delve into complex and controversial topics to a new level of profundity.  this is where deep thinking occurs, shaping the future thought-leaders and influencers of the next generation.  i worry that our country, my generation, this generation, is losing the ability to think deeply and ponder. everything seems to be geared toward efficiency and automation, abbreviation and simplification. what will happen is we will end up losing, in large part, what makes us human, what brings us joy and pain and what perplexes our minds about our existence.

and yet, a more hopeful aspect thinks that there is a counterculture brewing, at least in America.  young people are rejecting the traditional expectations of joining a mindless corporate job, sitting 9-5, and floating mindlessly through their lives. i see people (and possibly because i’ve joined this revolution as well) worrying about their mental health, their well-being, their connection with nature, an interest in connecting with others in an earnest and organic way that includes time spent IRL.  so that’s my argument in defense of graduate programs. intellectual engagement in profoundly complex subjects is a rejection of the current detached, instant-gratification and instant-communication age.

off to bed, to ponder some more in a another consciousness.

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