Should I pursue my master’s degree? | Ask Kelly

A decorated mortar board reads: She laughs without fear of the future.
Photo from 2019 Macon commencement.

Dear Kelly,

I’m about to graduate with my bachelor’s degree, something I never thought I would have. I have worked really hard, and I am tired. My family keeps encouraging me to go for my master’s, and I really want to, but I’m just not sure if I have the energy. Should I just go for it? I don’t know what to do. Any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated.

OK, I already feel a kinship with this reader. I, too, am about to graduate with my bachelor’s degree. I’m almost 50 years old and never imagined I would be a college graduate, but in May I will be. I went from finally discovering the courage to go back to school in 2017 for a basic early childhood certification, to graduating with an associate’s degree, and then transferring to Mercer University where I am about to earn a dual bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and special education. The journey has been long, and to be honest, I, too, am a little tired.

But when I began to consider whether to go for my master’s, there were some questions I had to ask myself. These weren’t the typical questions like, “Would it benefit me in my career,” or “Would it be worth it, monetarily, down the road?” Instead, I asked myself the more difficult, thought-provoking and personal questions, like, “What’s stopping you?” and “With the path you’ve already taken, the challenges you’ve already faced, the obstacles that you have conquered, don’t you know that you have what it takes to earn a master’s?”

My whole journey began with a challenge. I was never going to go back to school, I had absolutely zero intention. I had dropped out of two different colleges in my 20’s due to my academic struggles and was completely set on the fact that I would never return. Of course, there was always something in me that felt I should, but I was resigned to say, “Absolutely not!” That is, until my son, who was in college, said something one night that cut me to my core. There I was, giving him a 20-minute (or longer) lecture for getting bad grades based on not completing assignments. I remember saying to him, “You have the opportunity that I never had, you can be a college graduate! Why aren’t you taking this more seriously?”

Now, please realize both my sons have always been very well spoken, and both are master negotiators. At that moment, my son replied with, “Wait! What do you mean you never had the opportunity? You have it now! You could go back to school, but you won’t!” I remember sitting there, silent, realizing that while I was always determined to be a strong example for my sons, in this particular area, I had fallen short. Rather than show them that I could overcome obstacles and achieve my goals, I had shown them that when something was too hard, it was better to avoid it.

I took that statement from my son as a challenge, and immediately began, at the age of 44, to search out education programs. Going back to school taught me a lot, but mostly, it taught me that when I truly want something, I have the determination, tenacity, perseverance and courage to go after it. Furthermore, it taught me that my potential is endless, and my future is limitless.

Yes, there is a part of me that is tired, but I know I have what it takes to go further. I know I can earn my master’s and one day earn a doctorate. I’m excited to see what my future holds. I know that who I was in my past can’t compare with the individual I will be in my future. In addition, my sons have learned now that it’s never too late to go after the things they’ve always wanted. Their future isn’t carved in stone, and at any time, they have the potential to change their stars. They’ve also learned that who a person has been in the past, isn’t who they have to be in the future. I dropped out of those two schools decades ago because I couldn’t make the grade, but does that mean I’ve barely scraped by now? Oh, no! This time, I put my everything into it, and it has paid off. I have maintained a 4.0 GPA ever since I came back to school and will graduate with honors.

So, I ask you, what’s stopping you? You’ve worked tirelessly to earn something you always wanted. Now, you have a new goal. Why talk yourself out of it? You know you have what it takes to succeed. You set a goal and then labored and sacrificed to achieve it. You’ve worked hard, but that hard work has paid off. I am a firm believer that when one goal is achieved, a new one must be made. What’s your new goal? And having traveled the journey you have over the past few years, are you really ready to say, “I’m tired, so I’ll just stop here.” My best advice is to take what you have accomplished and use it to propel you to your future goals. Just like myself, your potential is endless, and your future is limitless. You can do this, and I’ll be right there beside you, cheering you on.

As always, I wish you health, happiness and continued success throughout your journey.

Every other week, Kelly Browning, an early childhood education/special education major and student ambassador at the Henry County Regional Academic Center, answers questions from the Mercer community. Email her at or fill out our online form to submit your question anonymously.


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