Have you ever wondered whether you should go back to school? I've struggled with this feeling for almost eight years, since graduating from an unaccredited Christian college with my B.S. in Biblical Studies degree. I often wonder "what if..." I had the opportunity to have attended an Ivy League school—for which I was more than qualified? What if I had not grown up in a religious sect, where women were destined to be homemakers and pastor's wives? How would my life have turned out differently? And, these questions led me to pursue higher education and the degree I always wanted. After being a part of the altMBA6 program in August 2016, I realized that going back to school was the next evolution of my journey. Getting the education I need (and WANT) to pursue my passion for business and leadership is critical. Yet, I found so many of my altMBA compatriots almost discouraging me from taking this path. In all of their eagerness to be ruckusmakers and eschew the status quo, many of them tried to give me shortcuts and ways around getting this degree. Why?
Many are not fans of the traditional school system and did not use their degrees as catapults for their careers. That's understandable. School is not for everyone. If my career trajectory was entrepreneurialism or simply becoming a subject matter expert, there would be little ROI from another Bachelor's degree and an MBA from one of The Top Five B-Schools. But, my sites are set on the CMO or COO position at a large organization, with the intention to become a leading female intrapreneur. I could try sidelining my way into that position, or I could get the preferred credentials to leave no doubt that I deserve that position in the C-suite.
My hubby asked me, "If you could choose any school in the world to attend, which would it be?"
With no hesitation, I responded, "Harvard."
He then googled Harvard to see if there were any online courses, and we discovered the Harvard Extension School. It was made for someone, like me. I could not hold back my excitement, that is, until I thought about accruing loads of student debt.
The hubby said, "Go to the best. Don't worry about how much it costs, especially when you consider your earning potential afterwards."
Words of wisdom. Too often I get mired in the immediate details before I consider the long game. I did the math. It made perfect sense. In that moment, I made the decision to go as far as I could with Harvard Extension School.
I have already spoken with the admissions department and enrollment coach. (By the way, their team is AWESOME. All of the community colleges I contacted were lackadaisical when it came to my questions, but Harvard Extension School's team answered all of my questions and more.) Even though I hold a B.S. degree, it did not prevent me from moving forward with enrollment in Harvard's BLA program because it is from an unaccredited institution.
My next step was to take their Critical Reading and Writing Skills test to find out whether my writing chops are up to par. I passed the test with flying colors!
And, the journey has commenced.
It's a long road ahead—at least six years—before I finish my degrees, with the additional challenge of working full-time with a family of three kids. I've never shied away from a challenge, and there's no way I'm backing down now.
Bring it on!
11.3.2016 Update: As excited as I was to pursue Harvard Extension School, I determined that it was not currently the right fit for me. Because I would need to decrease my course load and be unable to use CLEPs (while also continuing to work full-time), it would take me at least 2-3 years longer to get my Bachelor's Degree when compared to the other school I was considering attending. The end-goal is for me to graduate with a solid degree, high GPA and set me up to get my MBA at Kellogg School of Management. Based on some counsel I received from my mentors, there's a more efficient way to go that route...