I’m now three weeks into graduate school and I am definitely INTO graduate school. There was no slow ramp-up. No letting-us-get-our-sea-legs. Classes and assignments began at full warp speed from day one, and although I’m keeping up, I’ll admit that I’m huffing and puffing.

THIS IS HARD.

For those who don’t know, I’ve just started the online Master’s in Social Work program at Simmons University in Boston. I strongly considered getting my MSW when I graduated college all those many years ago but one thing led to another led to an abortive (two years) stint in law school led to a very satisfying 20 year career in media led to a total stop when Henry died.

After his death, I became extremely confused as to what I was supposed to be doing. Increasingly, media didn’t feel right. It took me a few years before I realized that what I really want to be doing is working with and on behalf of mentally ill and addicted adults, and to do that, I would need a graduate degree. I considered going back to law school but quickly realized that that wouldn’t give me the credentials I needed. I looked at getting my Master’s in Counseling or Psychology but came to the realization that the most useful and flexible degree I could go after would be an MSW.

So here I am – a few weeks into my first year of my graduate degree at age 51 years old. Sometimes I have moments of panic as to whether it makes any sense for me to be getting a grad degree at my age but then I realize that I have 20-25 working years ahead of me and I need training for what it is I want to do.

And WOW has this program been kicking my tail so far. I don’t know what I expected but this is far more challenging than I imagined that it would be. I think my brain is just out of practice when it comes to school stuff. Everything seems to be taking longer than I thought it would. Yet I find it exhilarating too. It’s been a while since I flexed my learning muscles.

I was very curious what it would be like to do an online program and so far it’s both no different than “regular” school and totally different at the same time. My synchronous classes, where I meet at the same time and in the same place online as my professors and classmates are very much the same as an in-person class. However my asynchronous homework (and there’s a LOT of graded homework) is more challenging, mainly because the tech platform that Simmons uses leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve spent many hours on the phone with Simmons tech support since starting classes.

I also wondered if I’d feel disconnected from my professors and classmates in an online program. So far that’s not the case at all. My professors are extremely accessible and I’m getting to know my classmates not only from our classes together but from small group projects as well.

This week is my first real crunch week. I have two papers due – on Monday and Tuesday. Even though I’m a writer by trade, I’m extremely nervous about writing these papers. And speaking of which, I had better get to work on one of them now.

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