Wednesday, February 28, 2018

grad school update | the last semester


these past (almost) two years have really flown by. in some ways I can't believe it is already time to graduate, and yet I am also so ready to be done. but I wanted to take some time to reflect back on the past two years, and document where I'm at in the process to graduation and licensure right now. because I know once I am working I will want to look back on this time in life and remember everything it took to get to that place. I realized the last time I gave a real update was last April, so it has been almost a year and a lot has happened!

the first year of grad school was very busy and I was getting used to an entirely new world, because social work is nothing like accounting. but I instantly felt like this is what I was created to do and I haven't lost that feeling. I was good at accounting and I liked it a lot, but social work is just so much more than a career. I have grown and changed a lot in these past two years, as a person and a professional. 

the first year I had a full time load of classes, an internship, and a part time job. weekends did not exist because I would be in class or at my internship M-F, then I would work on school work pretty much the entire weekend. there were very few days where Thomas and I were able to just get out and do something where I wasn't taking a book along and reading/studying in the car. it was a good year, but also very exhausting in many ways and I am glad that year is over.

then I went straight into a summer semester where I was taking classes, working two jobs, and packing our apartment to move. I had classes three days a week, and worked three days a week, so there was only one true day off. looking back, I definitely bit off more than I could chew during the summer, but God was gracious enough to pull me through it because I definitely did not get through it within my own strength. 

this second year involved moving back home & moving in with my in-laws so that I could finish my classes at home, where I got my top internship placement. the first semester I took a full load of classes again and worked 11a-11p shifts for my internship. my schedule was different every single week and I was exhausted in a completely different way. it was hard getting used to working those shifts and not seeing Thomas on days that I worked, but I really love my internship and the experience that I am getting. my supervisor is awesome and I am learning so much!

this second year has also involved Saturday classes, so for 7 hours every Saturday I am in class. I started Saturday classes last May and they will go through the end of this April. so, you can say after a year I am going to be ready to have a two day weekend again! Thomas and I have been very intentional about keeping our Sundays as a day together though, since that is the only day we both have off together. I have tried to make sure that I don't have to do any school work on Sundays so we can have that day. it has worked out well and I'm glad that we have been able to have a day each week, because that is something we did not have the first year of school. 

this current semester started with four classes, but I was able to finish two early and so right now I am down to two again! which has been awesome because it has given me time during the week to begin studying for the licensure exam! my internship hours have also changed to 8 hour days this semester because my supervisor moved into a new job, so that has been a nice change! continuing the 11a-11p schedule this semester would have been crazy!

I opted not to work during this last school year because I knew that with my internship schedule and studying for the licensure exam - it would just be too much. I am glad I made that decision because I am pretty overwhelmed with preparing for the exam and getting everything done for my classes... as well as preparing for job interviews and graduation! I am thankful that God led Thomas to this new job all those years ago, because it has allowed me to have the option not to work this last year of school.

so where things stand right now is that I am finishing up my last two classes and preparing for the licensure exam. the approval process is long and complicated, to say the least. I submitted my information at the beginning of January and did not receive approval to even apply for the exam until this week! now that I have my approval I have applied with the national board to take the exam and I will get my approval to schedule the test by the end of this week. then, I will actually be able to see what the open dates are and schedule my exam date!

it is nerve-wracking to schedule an exam date because I don't feel ready to take it yet. of course, you never really feel ready to take a standardized test so I'm not expecting to ever feel ready! but it does give me serious test anxiety knowing that I won't ever feel ready! I plan to give myself a few more weeks to study and practice test questions and then just bite the bullet and take it!

the reason I am taking the exam now, instead of after graduation... is because I have to pass the exam in order to even apply for a job at a hospital because I have to be licensed before I can start working! the way it works is crazy though... I can take the exam before graduating, and I will find out if I passed before I leave the testing center. but even if I pass, I won't get my actual license until sometime around June, once my final transcripts are sent in. so, I am going to apply for jobs early... but if I get a job offer I can't start until I get my actual license. which will at least be a month out from graduation.

at first I was a little frustrated that I wouldn't be able to start working right away. because I am anxious to start a new job after graduating (and anxious to save up and buy a house!). but then I realized that having a forced month off after completing two very focused years of grad school is a blessing in disguise! it will give me time to decompress and just relax for the first time in two years. and I am very thankful that I will be given the very precious gift of time. because that is something that doesn't happen very often!

so this is where I am... two-ish months away from graduation. finishing up two classes, and preparing for the licensure exam and job interviews. very excited to be at this point, yet very overwhelmed with all of the work I will need to put in these next two months to finish well. I think once I take the exam and (hopefully) pass I will feel a lot better. then I can focus more on job interviews and finishing the last few projects/papers in my classes! 


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