from Jen U to……?

I said I’d never do it.

I didn’t want to spend the money or the time. I didn’t see how it would make much difference to my professional goals, and the entire process sounded exhausting. In the words of Carson the butler on last week’s (WTH???) Downton Abbey, “I would rather chew broken glass.”

Except now I just might get a master’s degree after all.

For some time I’ve been aware of the need to study; Jen U has been an attempt to read more widely and expand my knowledge of history, theology, and culture. But I’ve always hated school and vowed my BA was the end of the line. If I can learn the same information with a library card and some self-discipline, why jump through academic hoops or write papers?

Well, because there is something to be said for accountability, for having to read beyond my own immediate interests, and for learning more than what’s available in books. Some new professional opportunities have prompted me to reconsider grad school; although I will always need (and want) to learn on my own, I’m finally nearing the point where that may not be enough for me to make the contribution I want to.

I’m not interested in an MDiv because although I’ve changed my mind about higher education, I haven’t budged on my refusal to work on a church staff. Instead, I’m looking at MA programs in religion, history, culture, and the humanities. Given the number of exceptional schools in this area, I’m leaning away from long-distance online programs but not ruling them out completely. Princeton, Drew University, Eastern, and the University of Pennsylvania are intriguing me right now.

So. What do you think? What schools or degree programs have you experienced, and what would you recommend? What would you have done differently? Any tips for making the decision? And have any of you come into an inheritance you’d like to share so I can pay for this???


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