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Snow21

Worth it? Questions about an M.ed.

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Background: I have a B.A in English and Secondary Education in addition to an M.A in English. I really like working with college students and am very interested in working in student affairs (specifically admissions and student life). All of my jobs have been centered around education, after school programs and residence life (when I was in undergrad). Today I'm running a small after-school program for a non profit. There is no room for movement but I do hope that my experience working with almost college students could help propel me into student affairs. 

Now:  I'm weighing my options. All the jobs I've looked at and applied for require an M.ed in Leadership or Higher Ed etc. I really want to work in this field but I also don't want to go back to school and end up not liking it. Which is what happened with teaching. I can't apply for anything until this fall and wouldn't (hopefully) start a program until Fall 2017. I'm kind of nervous because I don't want to put off school forever but I don't know if its worth taking the leap without serious work experience in student affairs. Also I don't want to look like I'm just collecting Master's Degrees ( I got my M.A. within the last two years). Also in talking to people it looks like if I want to move up in student affairs the degree will still be necessary even if I get the entry level job without the degree.  

Any advice or suggestions for figuring out if I should move forward  with applying or wait for some type of job to open up and see what happens? I suppose I could keep applying for jobs and apply for school since I'll have another year of work regardless. 

I guess I'm asking if folks feel like an M.ed. in Student affairs related fields was/is helpful and if it would be worth it do a second Masters degree. 

Edited by Snow21

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Others might disagree with me, but I currently work in higher education and while my colleagues all have advanced degrees, they are from a variety of disciplines (MFA in creative writing, PhD in Music Conducting, MA in Cultural Studies etc.). I think it might be worth applying to positions in higher education this upcoming year to see how much success you have. If you get an entry-level position and cannot advance, perhaps you can simply enroll in an HESA degree at the college you work at. I would also suggest you look up the backgrounds of those in positions you aspire to.

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Agreed with the above. Try applying to some jobs and see what happens. A lot of people at my institution in various roles have master's degrees, but not necessarily in higher education/student affairs. Like olympichopeful said, if you can get your foot in but there's no room for advancement, you might be able to enroll into a higher ed program at the institution you work at. If you can't get in anywhere, then you'll know to apply to full-time master's programs.

Also, I don't know if it's common but when I was beginning to research master's programs, I saw some places don't like those who already have master's in other disciplines to apply to their programs (they recommended applying to their corresponding Ed.D/PhD program instead). 

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I agree with the other posters - you really want to work in the field for a couple years before you go back and get your MA in student affairs/higher ed.  Usually, the way that programs are set up, it assumes that you have some full time experience in the field and I am not sure how much you get out of it if you don't. And similar to teaching, a lot of student affairs professionals leave the field within the first couple years on the job so you want to make sure you at least like working in an university before you invest more time and possibly money in another degree.

Since you have prior residential life experience, I would look at residence hall director jobs.  I would also look at admission counselor positions because they are targeted towards people right after their bachelor's degree.  Usually, it is the easiest to get a position at your alma mater or a school comparable to your alma mater.

You may also find that you don't need a master's in student affairs/higher ed to progress.  The field values experience a lot and since you already have a master's - it might not be necessary depending on the school you work at.

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Thank you. I thought trying to get a job in higher ed should be my main focus at the moment. I'll definitely put in for residence hall director and admission counselor jobs.  I just haven' had much luck getting a foot in the door so far but hopefully that changes. I do have a follow up question. Since all the jobs ask for a Master's in Student affairs/ higher ed etc should I just ignore that and apply anyway? 

3 hours ago, ZeChocMoose said:

I agree with the other posters - you really want to work in the field for a couple years before you go back and get your MA in student affairs/higher ed.  Usually, the way that programs are set up, it assumes that you have some full time experience in the field and I am not sure how much you get out of it if you don't. And similar to teaching, a lot of student affairs professionals leave the field within the first couple years on the job so you want to make sure you at least like working in an university before you invest more time and possibly money in another degree.

Since you have prior residential life experience, I would look at residence hall director jobs.  I would also look at admission counselor positions because they are targeted towards people right after their bachelor's degree.  Usually, it is the easiest to get a position at your alma mater or a school comparable to your alma mater.

You may also find that you don't need a master's in student affairs/higher ed to progress.  The field values experience a lot and since you already have a master's - it might not be necessary depending on the school you work at.

 

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9 hours ago, olympichopeful said:

Others might disagree with me, but I currently work in higher education and while my colleagues all have advanced degrees, they are from a variety of disciplines (MFA in creative writing, PhD in Music Conducting, MA in Cultural Studies etc.). I think it might be worth applying to positions in higher education this upcoming year to see how much success you have. If you get an entry-level position and cannot advance, perhaps you can simply enroll in an HESA degree at the college you work at. I would also suggest you look up the backgrounds of those in positions you aspire to.

Thank you. I will keep applying. Most of the folks I know who have the types of jobs I want do have student affairs related degrees, but I know that's not everyone's experience. 

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Like others have suggested, I think you can get a res life position in student affairs easily with your experience and degrees. There are some institutions which are really strict on a higher ed/student affairs/ed leadership requirement, however, I think experience ultimately matters more. Definitely apply for full time jobs, and possibly some grad programs to explore your options. 

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1 hour ago, Snow21 said:

Thank you. I thought trying to get a job in higher ed should be my main focus at the moment. I'll definitely put in for residence hall director and admission counselor jobs.  I just haven' had much luck getting a foot in the door so far but hopefully that changes. I do have a follow up question. Since all the jobs ask for a Master's in Student affairs/ higher ed etc should I just ignore that and apply anyway? 

 

Snow21,

I agree with everyone's comments, and your own, that you are best served to just apply to jobs, rather than consider grad school. I also would not be discouraged that you have been unable to move further into the job application phase, as many of the positions you are referencing (specifically, admissions and residence life) are often filled by alumni of the school. I can't recall if anyone had mentioned it yet, but I would suggest reaching out to your alma mater(s) and try to hold informational interviews with individuals in the departments you are interested. Even if these conversations do not lead to a job, it may help you orient your experience and degrees to set you apart in your job application/cover letter. To that end, I would ignore specific master's requirements, apply, and frame your cover letter around your experience, which many have explained will be more helpful than the additional degree.

Hope this helps. 

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42 minutes ago, so_it_goes said:

Snow21,

I agree with everyone's comments, and your own, that you are best served to just apply to jobs, rather than consider grad school. I also would not be discouraged that you have been unable to move further into the job application phase, as many of the positions you are referencing (specifically, admissions and residence life) are often filled by alumni of the school. I can't recall if anyone had mentioned it yet, but I would suggest reaching out to your alma mater(s) and try to hold informational interviews with individuals in the departments you are interested. Even if these conversations do not lead to a job, it may help you orient your experience and degrees to set you apart in your job application/cover letter. To that end, I would ignore specific master's requirements, apply, and frame your cover letter around your experience, which many have explained will be more helpful than the additional degree.

Hope this helps. 

This is amazingly helpful. One of my alma mater's just posted an opening for a Resident Director so I'm going to go ahead and put in for that (I checked after seeing your response). I will reach out to folks and see if I can get some informational interviews set up. I also appreciate the reassurance that hope isn't lost. 

Edited by Snow21

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