CROSSROADS: Next up? Another master's?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Paidagogos, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. Paidagogos

    Paidagogos Member

    In 2013 I graduated from WNMU's MAIS program with concentrations in History & English. For the past year I have been working at a small CC as a part-time English tutor, and an adjunct English teacher. Needless to say, I'm not making much money, but I am doing what I enjoy. Still, at this early point in my career, I am thinking of ways to better myself inside of academia.

    Recently, my thoughts have turned to maybe doing another master's. Initially, I was drawn to the MAIS' versatility - and it has done just that - I can teacher either history, or English classes. But, in all reality, I feel maybe I need more experience in one field to progress? Hence, the "crossroads" in the title of this post...I am trying to decide if it is just superfluous to get another master's, or if it isn't, what area should I get?

    Lately, I have been looking in the University of Memphis' online MA in History degree, partly because i can transfer in between 9-12 hours of graduate work. The degree might cost between $10,000-$12,000 to complete. I am very passionate about history, and I believe this may be what I want to teach in the longterm. Also, this degree could serve to warm me up for Ph.D work locally, if I eventually choose to go that route (reluctant because of horror stories, though!).

    I have also looked at some options in getting in MA in English, or Composition and Rhetoric. I have some natural talent in teaching writing, I do believe, and it is the subject area I broke into academia with. (nothing wrong with ending with a preposition!haha)

    Apart from that, I've looked at maybe just doing a short, grad cert in composition, until I feel things out.

    Finally, I've also looked in MA degrees in Instructional Design, CC teaching, and Computers and IT, because so much of education seems to be heading in that direction, and careers within those field pay much better. Ultimately, I don't care so much about money, I would rather be fulfilled and enjoy what I am doing more than anything.

    ANYWAY, TLDR: What/if any of these areas are the smart way to push my life and career forward. I believe that I would like to stay in education, but I wouldn't rule out other fields, either. Or, is it better to just try your luck, and stick with you first MA to the end, and save money? This is a great forum, I always appreciate you guys' responses, feedback, and insights!
  2. NWLearner

    NWLearner Member

    I don't another masters in more or less the same field makes much sense, but there are plenty of other options. You could pursue further studies in your field without another degree, write some papers, attend conferences, etc. Or you could get a graduate certificate in a specialization or a field that different but complements your degree. Instructional technology is a hot one these days. Or ESL if that's an area you are interested in.
  3. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Paidagogos, what is your actual career goal within academia? I would first decide on that as specifically as possible, then earn a degree that seems most likely to help me reach that goal.
  4. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    Do you enjoy teaching or just working for a college? Obviously if you split off into instructional design or computers, you'd be moving from faculty to staff. If that's on the table, also consider student services (advising, financial aid, etc) they have great tracks for advancement into upper level administration.

    If you want to stay in the classroom, you're already in the English department, so why not go ask your department coordinator what it would take to get you hired full time, and if a hypothetical FT opening existed right now, are you a strong applicant? If yes, great. If not, why? Let them answer. Most people don't edu-obsess like those of us on these boards. That person may be fine with your current degree. (Or not. Who knows?) These are hard to ask, but the answer is very important. Each CC has it's own culture, and if you like this school, it might be worth looking how to advance WITHIN first. The main difference between being adjunct and FT is you're on a semester-to-semester hiring contract now...but locking in FT pretty much means you're set for a loooonnnngggg time. You'd likely leave before you'd ever lose your job.

    Finally, why aren't you doing adjunct work for the history department? Walk down the hall and introduce yourself.

    I'd suggest just a bit more hustle before buying another degree, that degree (or lack of) may not have anything to do with your advancement at this school at this moment.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2014
  5. Paidagogos

    Paidagogos Member

    @NWLearner, I think you're right, a grad cert. or something might help me specialize further in a field, which could be good. Might be a cheaper, more reasonable way to boost my credentials.

    @Steve, I know I need to figure out what my "actual" career goal is. I guess in the long term I'd like to teach history, or a combo of English and history, or maybe even some cross-referenced classes that would combine the two fields, but I think this interdisciplinary approach is pretty rare.

    @Cookderosa, thanks for the insight into the CC culture - having only been there a year, I'm still learning, believe me. Also, I appreciate what you said here,

    "I'd suggest just a bit more hustle before buying another degree, that degree (or lack of) may not have anything to do with your advancement at this school at this moment."

    I think you're probably right. Certainly "hustle" is still free the last time I checked, so I may just continue down that path, and make some further connections before I decide to drop another $10k on something with uncertain value. Thanks for chiming in folks!
  6. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    If you have the aptitude for it, instructional technology or academic technology is probably the best way to make a living salary.

    Our experiences clearly differ in this regard.
  7. Afterhours

    Afterhours Member

    If your passion is History, and credits will transfer to U of Memphis, and the price is that low, I'd go with that choice. It will open up the prospect of teaching History at ccs and even some LACs that do not have an all PhD faculty. And there are many of those. You will be more employable with a degree in the actual subject.

    Actually, my interests are similar to mine. How did you like the MLS program at WNMU?
  8. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    Yeah, maybe. I've worked directly under 2 different deans who came from student services (which has nothing to do with applied technology obviously) and our entire chancellor's cabinet has student services in their bios.
  9. Paidagogos

    Paidagogos Member

    I had a great experience with the MAIS program at WNMU. Had good experience with my teachers (History & English), and the degree is very versatile because it allows me to teach in two subject areas - which can be a plus a some CCs. At the time, the degree was very affordable. The degree has gone up in price since I graduated (2013), but it is still one of the most affordable master's I think.

    If I had to do it again, I would look into the University of Memphis' history program. Looks to be a good program, but I don't think anyone on the forum has experience with them. I never like to be the guinea pig. Hahaha. :) There again, though, that degree still would not have the versatility of the MAIS degree, but might look better in some instances, or arguably might better prepare you for PhD work later on. Good luck, either way!
  10. jumbodog

    jumbodog New Member

    How much education is enough? This question confounds many people but I think it resolves into two separate issues. The first is simply how much does one enjoy learning? I know someone with four MA degrees and they are working on their 5th. Some people just enjoy being a student--they like the learning process, they like academia, and it is a good fit for their personality. To phrase it differently, for some people they are not merely interested in learning, they love it. It's a passion. Learning for them is as much a passion as is teaching, or being a rock star, or being anything else. On the other hand, some people are the reverse--they can't stand the academic environment, they want their credential and they want out. So I think it is important for anyone going past the 1st MA to be honest with themselves about their emotional as well as intellectual attachment to learning.

    The second issue is the more obvious one of what do you want to do with the degrees? Remember, every day you spend studying there is an opportunity cost to it. Other people are out teaching. If you have three MA degrees while another person has one MA degree but four additional years teaching, that choice will sway certain hiring committees differently. Same as two MAs vs a PhD. So the issue here is one of targeting, which requires you to think fully about where you want to go with your career over the long term. Different educational paths will open different career options. None of these paths are better or worse in an objective sense, but they may be better or worse for you as a person--for your own life goals and aspirations. Trust me on this--I've observed every possible academic permutation during my own academic career and for every possible permutation there has always been someone who has wound up being unhappy they took that route. And when I have taken the time to inquire as to the source of unhappiness most often it was the result of approaching their academic careers haphazardly rather than with insight.

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