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Grad School: The Triumphs and Trials

Well hello, friends! My name is Denise, and I used to blog for Boundless, and then I didn’t, and now I do again. It’s a breathtaking story.

Since I last hung out with you all, I became a Sunday school curriculum writer and a grad student. Both are interesting, challenging and sometimes frightening.

Writing curriculum is frightening because I am responsible for correctly communicating God’s Word to fifth and sixth graders. I want to do it truthfully and through the power of the Holy Spirit’s counsel. Grad school is frightening because it is making me poor. And it is a lot of work. And I am very lazy.

I was reading Alex Chediak’s articles on “Thinking About Grad School,” and it was a good reminder that advanced education is not for everyone, but it is a very, very good thing for some. If you want to go deep into a subject, grad school will make you somewhat of an expert in a given area. Your desire for the details of a subject (or the money you’ll make once you know those details) is what will help you in school. As Alex puts it:

Think of an undergrad degree as providing a broad education (even engineers have to take English classes and public speaking; even art majors have to take some science and math courses), whereas grad school provides depth in a particular discipline. So being passionate about that field — really wanting to dig deep — is important. It will fuel perseverance in what will likely be a multi-year, 50- to 60-hour-per-week commitment.

I am working on a degree in Old Testament Biblical Studies, and no, it’s not boring, and no, I’m not a weird, boring person, and no, you will not die of boredom if you do this degree. In fact, I think it’s awesome and completely fascinating. (Maybe I am a weird, boring person.)

As I was thinking through whether or not to spend the next few years drowning in homework and having nightmares of school bills chasing me through the library, my decision came down to a few things.

1. I really was passionate about the Old Testament and understanding the Hebrew roots of Christianity. Although I knew it would be a lot of work, it was work that sounded fun.

2. I still had a steady job that would help me pay my living and school expenses. I may have to take out a small loan from the bank or my parents, but I wouldn’t be entrenched in debt once I graduated.

3. For me, it was a wise career choice. As a writer, it would make me an “expert” in a certain field, and I could use that knowledge in the type of writing I already do and the type of writing I hope to do someday. I also am considering teaching at the college level, and this master’s degree is the first step toward that goal.

4. It was a good time to try this school thing out. I’m not married, and I had a great job that allowed flexibility. I started out at Denver Seminary with just one class a semester; then the following year, I jumped in full time. I tested the waters and then committed.

Are any of you considering grad school? What are your pros and cons? For those of you currently relishing in the late nights and library time that grad school offers, what was the process that helped you make a decision?

Copyright 2011 Denise Morris Snyder. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Denise Morris Snyder

Denise Morris Snyder is a mom, wife and part-time discipleship pastor at CrossRoads Church in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. She previously worked as an editor for Focus on the Family and a writer for David C Cook. She has her Master’s in Old Testament Biblical Studies from Denver Seminary.

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