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Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Education: A Personal Perspective

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By Jacob Bailes
Admissions Representative, APU Graduate Student and Student Affairs Intern

I have always aspired to become a higher education professional ever since the start of my collegiate career. As I started researching my options, I found American Public University through the recommendations of previous colleagues and mentors.

Once I found out about the Master of Education: Student Affairs in Higher Education degree, I knew that this school was where I was meant to be. As this program is geared toward preparing students for leadership in the higher education field, specifically in the Student Affairs field, and is offered in an online asynchronous environment, I knew I could not pass it up.

This program offers three different concentrations: Academic Advising, Campus Leadership, and Career Coaching and Services. I chose Campus Leadership as a means to gain the knowledge needed for positions within offices such as Residence Life, Student Activities, and Student Success.  

Starting Master’s Degree Classes

My admissions representative, Chelsea Graham, made my onboarding experience as easy as possible. I started taking classes in February 2020. While pursuing this degree, I connected with my fellow classmates and professors to network and also to grow my professional knowledge.

In the courses, I learned about areas such as higher education financial management, diversity and inclusion, ethics, and policies. All of my classes were eight weeks in length, except for my practicum, which is 16 weeks in length. The short length of the courses made it easier to manage my personal time alongside my education to have the best possible learning experience.

Taking a Practicum for My Master’s Degree

A practicum provides you with the opportunity to put your skills and knowledge from previous courses to practical use. For my practicum, I currently work for the University’s Student and Alumni Affairs team as an intern. This opportunity has not only provided me with a new outlook into the inner workings of this department, but it has also given me more experience within this industry field.

In this role, I work directly with university clubs and organizations and provide final certifications to those in leadership positions. I also work closely with my colleagues to ensure that our university’s current students and alumni are provided with the best services and different ways to engage with one another. I could not have chosen a better office to work for to complete my final requirement in this program.

As I have gone through this master’s program, I wanted to acknowledge a few people for their amazing work and dedication to success at this university. These people are Dr. Jan Spencer, Dr. Shauna Harris, Dr. Kendra Wood, Dr. Tijuana Frank, Dr. Barry Dotson, Dr. Mark Poisel, and Courtney Kendzierski (Ant. M.Ed. August 2021).

Tips for Taking a Practicum Course

In closing, I have a few tips for successfully completing a practicum course:

  • Find a role that you have never worked in to develop your expertise in a new area.
  • Find something that works well with your schedule. That will ensure that you’re following best practices and will allow you to provide the best possible effort at your workplace.

Also, be sure to network! Take the time to create meaningful relationships with those around you to ensure a happier future.

About the Author

Jacob Bailes has been with the University as a student since February 2020 and as an Admissions Representative since April 2020. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication with a concentration in Media Studies and a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. He expects to earn his M.Ed. in Student Affairs with a concentration in Campus Leadership in August 2021. Jacob plans to start his M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration in October 2021 while also preparing for his doctoral studies in the next year.

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