Should You Go Back To School?

terminal degree

Just because you work in higher education, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider going back to school yourself. An increasing number of campus recreation professionals are pursuing a terminal degree in order to further their knowledge and expand their options.

Peter Tulchinsky, the director of recreation at the University of Mississippi recently went back to school to pursue his Ed.D in higher education administration. “I felt like if I didn’t have my terminal degree then I wouldn’t have the opportunity for advancement at a senior leadership level,” said Tulchinsky. “I felt like it was necessary for me to have the degree so that I had options in case at some point campus recreation was no longer going to be where I was going to end my career.”

According to Tulchinsky, so far the biggest challenge with heading back to school has been juggling his busy schedule and managing his time. “We are all full-time professionals,” said Tulchinsky. “Some of us have very time consuming professions, so how do we manage our professional careers, our personal lives and then taking on this additional commitment. It has been a challenge to figure out how to balance all of those things.”

While adjusting to a more hectic schedule has presented its difficulties, Tulchinsky explained he has enjoyed meeting and learning from his fellow classmates who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and can offer a different perspective on higher education. Overall, he sees a great benefit in pursuing a terminal degree and considers it a worthwhile investment.

“I think there is a higher expectation for senior level leadership in student affairs,” said Tulchinsky. “I think there is a level of credibility that comes with a terminal degree when interacting with our faculty colleagues on campus and I think it demonstrates a higher level of professionalism that folks are looking for. People that have accomplished this terminal degree are really committed to solving problems of practice in higher education and have a depth of knowledge that is going to help their departments be successful.”

If you are also considering pursuing a terminal degree, Tulchinsky recommends ensuring you are ready for the commitment. “Be sure that this is something you want to do because it is an investment of time, it is an investment of resources and it is a significant commitment,” he said. “I think folks that get into the terminal degree program need to be invested in seeing it through. I should have done this 15 years ago when I have a little more free time and didn’t have the obligations both with work and outside of work that I do now.”

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Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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