Going Back to School After a Long Break

Rho Muller, a teacher, talks about the transition back to school life after working in her field for over four years.

1. What is one sentence you would use to describe who you are and what you do?

My name is Rho Muller, previously a special education kindergarten teacher in Boston, and currently working in a 2’s classroom while also earning my master’s degree in Infant and Family Services and Early Intervention.

2. Did you take the GRE? If so, what was your experience studying for it like?

I did take the GRE to apply to grad schools, which was intimidating because I am not a great test taker. However, I had a lot of reassurances that the GRE is more of a formality for Education graduate school programs. This helped relax me and i decided to take the course and see how I did, apply, and take it from there. I did not do great on the GRE, but I decided to take a chance and apply to programs with my adequate score and see if I could get into some of the programs. I was very happy and grateful when I was accepted to some great programs and saw that the reassurances I previously received were correct!

3. How did you choose your graduate program?

I was interested in applying to a few graduate programs for education in a few states and that offered different programs. I had previously taught and was certified in Special Education, severe disabilities for ages 3-22, and although I was so happy and loved my job, I wanted to learn more and was intrigued by early intervention and teaching 0-3-year-olds. I was so happy to be accepted to Bank Street College of Education in New York City and in the Infant and Family Services, Early Intervention program. 

4. Did you take time off between undergrad and grad? Do you think it’s important to take time off? Why or why not?

I was very grateful to have been offered a job out of undergrad and worked full-time as a Special Education Kindergarten Teacher for 4 years before going to grad school. So I took off a lot of time before even applying to go back to school, and throughout my years working I would take some of the courses that were offered to teachers through some schools, and I recall being overwhelmed with the amount of work required for both my job and the courses. This made me feel anxious to enroll full-time or even apply to graduate programs and I ended up waiting until the last minute to return to being a full-time student and working full-time. In Massachusetts, where I was certified, I was required to receive a master’s degree before the end of my fifth year of teaching, so that I could receive the next stage of my certification that could lead to tenure and more.

Now I am working full-time and attending grad school full-time…Not the most fun. In retrospect, I think that if I would have kept the momentum going from undergrad and gone straight into a graduate program, it would have been an easier and more seamless transition. Taking the time off and seeing what life without school was like made it hard to ever want to go back. I’ve had a taste of what not being in school felt like and am excited to eventually return to that life, and ignorance is bliss, so I recommend sticking with grad school right after undergrad and not taking time off because it is really challenging to want and go back to that.  But I do not regret any of my choices; I have loved all of my experiences in undergrad, grad school, and in the field of working. 

5. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I think in regards to grad school, I would say that the best piece of advice that I received was that it is unlike any previous experiences in school and that the school, program, directors, and instructors want you to succeed, so don’t be afraid to ask for help or what you want/need. If you feel like you need help with a paper or assignment, ask. If you need more time completing anything, ask. If you think that you can express your thoughts, ideas, and artifacts in a different media format, ask! Nobody wants you to fail or be unsuccessful, so take the time to reflect on yourself as a learner, find your strengths and what is most challenging for you, and communicate with your instructors and advisors. 

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