This week I finished the first year of my undergraduate degree. I officially know How to College. lol. I maintained my grades and actually improved my GPA. I am within a hares breath of a 4.0!! Next term I should be able to achieve it. With my success during these first three fast track terms, I gained the ability to add additional classes for the duration significantly shortening my already accelerated graduation time frame. Grad school suddenly got a lot closer, a mere 9 terms and just a hair over 16 months away.
While I have always planned on continuing beyond my BS it hadn't really occurred to me that it would be happening within five years. Until I actually got started with my current school I dreamed of graduate school, but never really thought it would be within my grasp. It was always a goal, but never a tangible possibility until like just now after speaking with my student advisor.
To be entirely honest I kind of stumbled my way into my current school. I sent an email looking for information kind of kicking the idea around not entirely ready to commit. The admissions staff, however, really did their job well and suddenly I was on my way whether I was entirely prepared or not. I love my school. I love my campus and the flexibility it offers, and I love the university system as a whole. I had no intentions of looking beyond the main campus to continue past my BS. Except... when I started looking into the programs and what was required to complete a MBA or MS in my current field I discovered that 90% of them require a semester studying abroad. In addition to that little hiccup, the cost of the MBA was almost twice the amount of my BS. Worth every penny I'm certain, but not something that I want to take on being 34 and a mom of three.
Right now if something happens to my Hubs his life insurance and other investments will cover my student debt as well as the cost of our house and vehicles. If I take out much beyond what I've already committed to, I will be unable to give my kids the necessary support they need if something were to happen to Hubs. That combined with the fact that I can't just up and traipse across the globe for a semester while taking care of my kids and responsibilities at home are the two major reasons I've decided to look elsewhere for graduate school.
I have a few different schools that I'm looking into right now, Ball State, University of Nebraska, and University of Cincinnati are my top three at the moment. Ball State and UN offer excellent programs and have basically the same cost. They both offer online hybrid programs that don't require more than a few weeks on campus which is handy. Ball State is the least expensive altogether, but Muncie is a rough town. While I have the option to participate in the program entirely online I would like to take some face-to-face classes as I finish my education. UN isn't terribly far away and I would be able to make the trip for a class or two if necessary. UC also offers a mostly online option and I have many friends and family who have graduated and speak highly of the faculty. It's slightly more expensive than Ball State or UN, but not outrageously so. I've already talked to the admissions department at UC and they are ready to accept my application like... yesterday even before I finish my undergrad. lol. Talking with the admissions department is the only time I've heard a complete stranger say: "oooooo!" with excitement when I mentioned my GPA.
So we'll see what happens. I do still have 16 months left to go before I graduate. There are a lot of additional hurdles I have to get past to actually get into whatever program I apply for. It's not quite as easy as just picking a place and submitting my enrollment for this next round but at least I'll be a bit more prepared. At least I hope. lol.