When I graduated with a bachelor's degree my adviser posed a question to me: did I want to go to graduate school? I was honest with him- I told him that I had a job lined up and I didn't really want to stay in school my entire life.

Fast forward one year. I'm working at a state university and my program manager is pushing me to go back to school for a master's degree, saying that if I get my degree from another state university the tuition would be free. I said, fine, sure, I'll go for it. I decided to return to my old department and was accepted into the M.S. program.

Unfortunately, a lot had happened to the department over the year while I was gone. Two of my favorite professors had retired and their replacements didn't have specialties relevant to my research interests. I decided to stick it out and for two years I worked full-time and took classes in the afternoons and evenings.

My manager, who had encouraged me to return to school, slowly turned on me. At least once a month he'd make me skip class to do work for him and he frequently complained to coworkers about how I was "never around". My grades slipped down to a B-, since attendance always seemed to be a part of the grade in all of my classes. His attitude, coupled with my lack of an adviser who had the same interests as me, resulted in me switching to another department. I thought it would help.

Since not all of my credits from the first program were able to be transferred to the second, I ended up taking an additional three years to finish my degree. Three long years, while working 40 to 50 hours a week, with a difficult manager, with a long commute, with so much drama going on in my personal life.

Next Wednesday I graduate. It's supposed to be a happy occasion but I am so burned out with work and school. My parents are disappointed that I didn't order graduation announcements to send to relatives. I know my parents are so proud of me. I'm the first person in my entire extended family to even go to college, let alone complete a master's degree. And I don't want anyone to know. I don't want to be congratulated. I don't want people sending me cards. I don't want to hang a diploma on my office wall. I don't want the reminder of all of the hard work I had to do, the tears, the late nights. I want to pretend like the past five years of my life never existed.


I'm telling myself that I'm just stressed and depressed, that eventually I will look back on my accomplishment and feel pride. Until then, I'm just sad and tired.