Attending a graduate school for journalism was an idea my dad brought to my attention around my sophomore year of college. At the time, I didn’t know there were graduate programs for journalists, but with research and persistence from my dad, I decided to apply to some programs this year. While I’m waiting to hear back from the schools I applied to, I’m also debating if I even want to continue my education after graduating.
Education has become a huge part of my life. Pursuing higher education has opened up many opportunities for me, but it also comes at a cost. I constantly missed out on spending time with friends, family and focusing on myself because school demands all my attention.
Prior to the pandemic, I can’t recall all the times I skipped out on family movie nights or cut hangouts with my friends short because I needed to do an assignment or study for a test. At times, it felt like I was missing out on life.
This year, my boyfriend surprised me with a day trip for Valentine’s Day. We followed all of the COVID-19 guidelines and had the chance to get out of the house. We had so much fun that he asked me if I wanted to stay an extra day.
I wanted to say yes, but I had class and I didn’t have the majority of my school supplies with me. Ultimately I had to turn down his offer, and I was upset about it. The thought of “if I wasn’t in school this wouldn’t be a problem” ran through my head all day.
I’m not oblivious to what having a master’s degree in journalism could mean for me and my career. But, having a master’s degree isn’t essential to becoming a journalist either. I have met quite a few professionals that don’t have their master’s degrees and went on to win Pulitzer Prizes and have accomplished incredible things during their career.
I have also met professionals with master’s degrees that have reached the same accolades as those that don’t. If there is anything I’ve learned during my undergraduate studies is that a degree does not guarantee you a job. Having experience is worth more than a degree. So though I could go off and work to obtain my master’s, that doesn’t guarantee me anything.
I am unsure of who I am without school. Being a student has become synonymous with being Iman after a lifetime of pursuing education. I’m not entirely sure who I am without having the title of student right next to my name.
What will I even do with myself? I’ve become so accustomed to waking up early for classes, studying for tests, and working on assignments that I wouldn’t know what to do when August rolled around and I didn’t have to prepare for the upcoming semester.
Part of my hesitancy in starting a master’s program is how expensive it is. Though the cost of pursuing a master’s degree varies by school, it can be quite costly. For the past four years, financial aid has covered my tuition expenses and I have thankfully remained debt-free.
All the grants I usually receive to pay for school runs out after this semester. Attending a journalism graduate program means I would have to take out loans and be in debt.
I’m not really sure what I’m going to do, but I have until May 1 to make a decision. I’ve prayed about this situation and left it in God’s hands. I know he will lead me down the right track like he’s done in the past.
No matter what my decision ends up being, I know I will be okay. If I decide to pursue a master’s degree that’s great, but if I don’t, that won’t hinder me from becoming one of the best journalists of my generation.