The perennial student


May 6, 2009 by 8junebugs

I’m going back to school. I’ve been accepted to Johns Hopkins University for the master’s in communication program, and I’ll be pursuing a concentration in digital technologies. My company will be paying for it, because I work for an unbelievable company with better education benefits than actual educational institutions and the degree is very, very job-related. Considering the course requirements, I’m basically getting a master’s degree IN MY JOB.

(I am not moving to Baltimore. This program is through the DC campus.)

I started applying for this program in late 2007 and shelved it when my personal life hit the fan, but this benefit has been available to me since I started working here. It was a point of some contention in my marriage — there were many arguments (from January 2005 on) about why my career and education were more important, and what if he got a job offer in New York or somewhere and had to turn it down because I was being selfish and committing to a degree program? (To my knowledge, no, he never applied for a job in New York.)

Let me be clear — this is also the awesome company that, since 2005, has promoted me twice, paid me very well, and covered all medical, dental, and vision insurance premiums (for him, too, while we were married). Plus disability and life insurance. Plus, they put more into my retirement account than I do.

And those are just the benefits on the books. Don’t even get me started on the free popcorn.

So, really? My employer is a pretty strong contender against random “what if” scenarios, just from the financial side (disregarding the fact that I actually like my job and my colleagues). Looking back, I can’t believe I went along with it, that I gave up on taking advantage of such a generous benefit. But, looking back, I can’t believe a lot of what I did or accepted or agreed to during those years.


This time around, it’s simultaneously simpler and more difficult. I realized, when I started considering this program again, that I’d never told G. that I’d been applying to a master’s program — see, there was all this other stuff to talk about in 2008. I literally forgot all about it for a year.

I didn’t need permission, but it is a huge time commitment — it means about two more years in this area, which affects our plans to eventually live in the same zip code. We’d just settled on how it makes good sense for me to stay where I am, with my awesome job, for at least another year. I felt like I was dropping a bombshell a month, but it turns out they aren’t bombshells when you have the same priorities.

Not surprisingly, I have his full support. “I will never tell you not to get a free master’s degree” may not be the sexiest thing he’s ever said to me, but it’s in the top 10.

We’ll work out the whole same-zip-code thing as we go — who moves where and when is never an easy decision, even when it seems to be. Being physically apart continues to suck, but, after 7 years of being completely apart, we can deal until the right thing to do is clear. Just being together is enough. (Plus, we’re better at it — being together and being apart — than we were 10 years ago, and I think we did a pretty good job then.)

For now, though, I’ll be at 22305.


5 thoughts on “The perennial student

  1. Boo says:

    …is your employer hiring?

  2. Flip-Flop says:

    Awesome. On multiple fronts. Go J & G 😉

  3. 8junebugs says:

    @Boo: Oh, you’re on my list if something comes up. Didn’t I tell you? My bad.

    @Flip-Flop: Thanks, ma’am.

  4. Amy says:

    Congrats, Jen! 🙂 Plus, I’m happy to be able to visit you in DC after we move east. 🙂

  5. 8junebugs says:

    Thanks, Amy — can’t wait to see you guys!

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