When you become a teacher in the state of Connecticut, you have 10 years from the time at which you get hired to obtain a master’s degree. In education, guessing your future profession correctly in college gives you a head start; many people I know who have been teaching for 10 or more years had their master’s degree either before teaching or shortly after starting. I was not one of those people.
You don’t need your master’s degree to be a journalist; you just need to be curious about things and produce stories on deadline. You also need to stay passionate about your work, because the hours are long and the pay is notoriously low. When I was no longer passionate about newspapering, I considered my options, and felt a calling to teach. I got certified, but then I had to go back to school.
For the past four years, I’ve taken at least one graduate school class per semester. Grad school can be demanding; there’s a lot to read and write. And, when you have a family, and you’re a teacher (especially a Language Arts teacher, wherein grading papers is a requisite weekend activity), grad school can become stressful. I am taking my final class now, and intend to graduate in May.
But, before you graduate, you have to take what is called a comprehensive exam. Imagine taking a test at the end of eighth grade that tests you on everything you learned in middle school. That is what I had last Saturday: a four-hour exam in a crummy basement computer lab at Southern Connecticut State University. The anticipation of the test was affecting my sleep and, of course, I woke up at 1:30 the night before and could not go back to sleep. On the way to the exam, I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for a double-espresso. The lady behind the counter whispered to me, giving me my drink: “Don’t drink the whole thing. I put in four shots. It will make you crazy.” I drank the whole thing.
Four hours later, I had written 15 pages in response to the exam’s three questions. I’ll find out my grade on April 24, but I think I did at least enough to pass. And, at this point, that’s good enough for me. What a relief.
Now . . . when’s that research paper due?