Choosing a Program: A Guide for the Chronically Indecisive

Confession – I am indecisive to a fault. I hate making decisions, even small ones. I agonize over the pros and cons of every available option. I’m always worried about making the wrong choice.

So unsurprisingly, applying to graduate school was a daunting process for me. When I decided to apply, I was working in the front office of an independent school, and I had been toying with the idea of getting a Master’s in Education for a couple years. I knew applying to school was a natural progression of my academic and career interests, but I was so overwhelmed at where to start! I was pretty sure I wanted to teach in a K-12 school, but I didn’t know in what capacity.

I strongly considered the Language & Literacy program because of my passion for literacy, while the Prevention Science and Practice program appealed to my interest in adolescent development and social-emotional learning. Ultimately, however, I decided that the Teacher Education Program (TEP) was the best fit for my desire to get a strong pedagogical foundation before transitioning into teaching. I also love that TEP is a certification program, meaning that I will be earning my Massachusetts Teaching License while working on my Master’s.

Here are three of the most important questions I asked myself when I was still trying to sort out what program was the best fit for me:

1. Why do I really want to get a Master’s in Education? Why now?

People pursue graduate degrees for all sorts of reasons such as career advancement and personal and intellectual enrichment. Giving myself time to do some soul searching about my own reasons helped me solidify what I cared about and where I envisioned myself in the future. A big bonus was contemplating this question also prepared me to write my personal statement!

2. What are my career goals and what kinds of qualifications do I need to achieve them?

For me, realizing that most of the careers I might eventually be interested in started with a teaching license was one of the biggest factors that made me gravitate toward TEP.

3. What do my family, friends, and colleagues think?

While ultimately applying to school is a personal decision, it’s so helpful to hear from the people who know you best. Your loved ones can give much-needed perspective and help you process your options. Solicit advice from everyone, but ultimately come back to question #1 and trust what’s in your gut.

If you’re like me and struggle at making decisions, I hope these questions will be helpful to you and your process! The good news is: there really are no bad choices. With 13 Master’s programs, HGSE has plenty of options to choose from, and each program is rewarding and enriching in its own way.

Sarah Mintz is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Teacher Education Program, pursuing licensure as a middle school English teacher. She comes to HGSE from Washington, D.C., where she worked at an independent school and a non-profit serving incarcerated youth. Outside of education, she loves to spend her time cooking and exploring the city with friends

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