Why I Really Went Back To College

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Back in the fall of 2017, I enrolled in online classes at Franklin University for my master’s degree in Instructional Design. In normal-people words, it’s basically learning how to create educational content to best suit the needs of the learners….A.K.A – learn how to make stuff that needs to be taught.

I graduated with my bachelors in graphic and multimedia design from SUNY Canton in 2014, and yes, it took me three years to finally get back in the saddle. To say I drug my feet (or boots, pun intended) would be an understatement. Within those three years, SO much happened. We bought a house, landed a teaching position at SUNY Canton, my photography business flourished more than I could have imagined, and we adopted a dog or two somewhere there in the mix. I had just spent sixteen years doing homework….and now, MORE HOMEWORK?!

“So, why go back to college if you’re already teaching college?”  

Let’s be honest. I don’t know if I want to be a full-time photographer for the rest of my life. I know that I will always be actively taking photos of something, but right now, my life is crazy as hell. I have never hustled SO much during “summer vacation” as I do now. I teach photography part-time at SUNY Canton, and I love that. Aside from photography, I also really love teaching. It fulfills a different part of me.

I would also say that I know myself pretty well. This may sound crazy, but I could NEVER do the same job, day after day, mindlessly until it’s time to retire. I would hate it, and grow to resent it (yes, even wedding photography.) I LOVE the ability to have multiple jobs that fulfill me in different ways. I’m a hyper-focus-er. In the summer, I am FULLY dedicated to my business. I sprint, when it comes to work. But sprinters and marathon runners are entirely different breeds. I get burned out quickly, and need a rest. I need to adjust my focus for a little while. So, when late fall rolls around, the wedding season dies down and it’s back to school, I’m fully refreshed and ready to get back to teaching. Honestly, I couldn’t have written a better script for my professional life, even if I tried.

I won’t lie, when wedding season comes to a close, or the semester ends, I’m ready for it. I know that I work best in smaller increments. I know some of you are probably reading this and thinking that that’s one of the most immature job-related things you’ve ever read, but it’s true, and this is how I’ve structured my life to best suit my personal needs, goals and strengths (revert to the second sentence of this post)

As I mentioned before, I am currently only teaching part-time, and in order to be eligible to teach at the college level full time, I need my masters degree. I am not your traditional “creative artist” who just goes with the flow, crossing bridges as they come, etc. I need a plan, I need structure and I need solid steps to reach my end game. FYI: I don’t have a retirement account set up from my weddings. I know I love teaching and I want to continue that at my best ability. I want to reach a higher level of teaching full-time during the school year, further setting myself up well down the road, to get myself to the point where I don’t have to work every Saturday for the rest of my existence in order to keep my LUSH bath bomb orders coming, or cutting down on my Dunkin trips.

I am playing into my strengths and enjoyments. I know myself, and I know that what keeps my passion alive for both photography and teaching is not being forced to hyper-focus on either one all year long. I’ve gotten a lot of questions and raised eyebrows about going back to school, and sometimes, I even question it myself. I’ll be honest, I’m nervous about juggling school and weddings this summer. But I know it will be well worth it in the long run, when this time next year, I’m getting ready to graduate with my masters, and for real this time, be DONE with homework.

Now, this is the time when I go “all Oprah” on you, and encourage you to take a hard look at what you’re doing. Are you a sprinter, stuck in a marathon-runner’s lifestyle?  The “real jobs” are good for the security, the passion is good for the soul, and the money is found somewhere in between.

Don’t get all hasty and turn in your two-weeks notice just yet, but if something has been laid on your heart, or itching at your fingertips, maybe it’s time to start exploring ways to make it happen. Start small and see where it goes.

 

Best of luck, my fellow sprinters

-Cristina