(Even) Higher Education

I’ve been thinking a lot about my future. My educational future, that is.

I’ve always been of the mindset that grad school wasn’t all that high on my list of priorities, considering that it’s not wholly necessary for my field. My industry values experience > qualifications, for the most part. But lately I’ve found myself missing being in school. I was always good at academics and excelled in my studies, particularly in college when I got to study exactly what I wanted. While I am constantly learning at work, I miss the structure of college coursework. I miss the variety of classes and the campus atmosphere more than I ever thought I would.

Now, when I think about going to grad school and getting a master’s, I’m of two minds. 1) Is it worth it, considering it costs a huge chunk of money that I don’t have? Is getting a grad degree going to get me further in my career that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to achieve without that certification? 2) No one ever regrets getting an education, or an (even) higher education, as this case may be. And what if I decide to go pursue a graduate degree that isn’t related to my current field anyway?

I don’t have any of the answers, nor do I expect to anytime soon. But in the meantime, I’m thinking and brainstorming and researching and pondering. Hopefully sometime, the answer will come to me, and I can figure out what I want to do for my next step. Or maybe I’ll fall into a magical situation where I can get a graduate degree that is paid for by someone other than myself and it won’t interrupt my career trajectory at all!

Fifty Nifty United States

This post was written as part of the Scintilla Project as an answer to the following prompt: What is the longest thing you know by heart (poem, speech, prayer, commercial jingle)? Why did you learn it?

In third grade, my class put on a concert where we sang songs about America.

I’m not sure if that’s a normal third grade thing or if my school was weird. Probably the latter, now that I think about it. At any rate, we sang and recited just about anything and everything you’d expect third graders to be able to perform, and then some. I don’t remember the entire program, but we sang songs including America the Beautiful, America (My Country Tis of Thee), The Star Spangled Banner, This Land Is Your Land, Yankee Doodle and Fifty Nifty United States. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance and excerpts of the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

I’m sure there is more that we performed but I can’t even remember all of it clearly (although I do remember the whole thing being really, really long). However, the one song I do remember in full from that third grade (!!) concert is Fifty Nifty United States:

Fifty nifty United States from thirteen original colonies;
Fifty nifty stars in the flag that billows so beautif’ly in the breeze.
Each individual state contributes a quality that is great.
Each individual state deserves a bow, we salute them now.

Fifty nifty United States from thirteen original colonies,
Shout ‘em, scout ‘em, Tell all about ‘em,
One by one till we’ve given a day to ev’ry state in the U.S.A.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut;
Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana;
Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan;
Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada;
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio;
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas;
Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Al -a -o ming.

North, south, east, west, in our calm, objective opinion,
(name of home state) is the best of the
Fifty nifty United States from thirteen original colonies,
Shout ‘em, scout ‘em, Tell all about ‘em,
One by one till we’ve given a day to ev’ry state in the good old U. S. A.

I’ll always be singing “Delaware” as my home state in the last verse, even though I haven’t lived there in years. And the part where it lists all fifty states in alphabetical order? You bet I can recite that off by heart, without prompting, without queuing to the music of the song. I’m pretty sure that qualifies as the longest thing I know by heart.

The Paths Taken After High School

Maybe it’s because the year is coming to a close, making it a prime time to reflect, but I’ve been thinking a lot about high school lately. It’s funny to see where my classmates and I all ended up, and I wonder if I could have predicted some of the paths we ended up taking post-high school.

My high school experience wasn’t exactly typical, having spent the first two years in Australia and the final two in Chicago. Most of my classmates in Chicago had known each other for years, so transferring in as a junior was a little weird. Not only that, but must of them were from Chicago and a good chunk of them returned to the area after graduating from college. I, on the other hand, knew Chicago was only going to be temporary for me and left for good (at least for the time being, I wouldn’t rule out moving back to Chicago in the future as I do like the city) before I had even finished college.

For the most part, I’ve lost touch with all those I knew in high school from Chicago. (Strangely enough, I do a better job of keeping in touch with my Australian classmates, even though I haven’t seen most of them since 2005 or 2008. I was in Australia longer than I was in Chicago, and my Australian friendships were much stronger than my Chicago ones.) Part of that was inevitable, as I was only in Chicago fleetingly and it’s been over four years since high school. It’s a little jarring to realize this every time my friends from college go home to visit family and friends for a holiday and come back with stories about friends from high school, or running into people they once knew fairly well before time and life made them grow apart. My ties to high school friendships and acquaintances are all digital now; social media is the way we keep connected (although I use that word loosely). Save for a freak encounter at an airport or something similar, I probably won’t physically run into them anytime soon.

It’s funny to see various snippets posted on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter of where my classmates are today and match it with my outdated, four years old memory of them. We’ve done well for ourselves, all things considered. I find it intriguing to see who went straight to work after high school, who majored in what, who went onto grad school, and what jobs people took for their first “big kid” job. To see who stayed in the area they went to school in, who returned home, or who went somewhere else entirely. I don’t think I could have predicted we all end up where we are now at the time of our high school graduation (personally, I remember talking about wanting to major in international relations and I now have a communications and languages degree) which is probably why I’m so fascinated by the different paths everyone took after high school.

Undergrad Complete

As of today I am officially done with my undergraduate studies. In four days, I will have my diploma in hand.

*cue freakout*

Now, if only I could get post-graduate employment squared away and sorted in the near future. But, I’m hopeful on this front. :)

加油,加油

All I have standing between me and graduation is a final paper, a portfolio, an online exam and a final presentation.

Also, graduation is in 12 days.

HOLY. CRAP.