Expanding Your Horizons: How Graduate School Can Help in Your Career and Life

by Alessa Shainne Hostalero

I’ve always believed that learning should never stop. It is a process one could invest in further knowledge, hone skills, gain experience, and eventually share with others. 

We often hear our parents say, “Study well.” or “Study hard.” This is because education is the only inheritance that they can pass on to us that can never be stolen from us. As a kid, I did not understand it, but as an adult, I finally realized what they were talking about. 

Unfortunately, education is a privilege in developing countries like ours. It is so precious because it is a key that can open doors to different opportunities. It is a gift that gives. It is a treasure that must not be kept. It can be polished and expanded even more when shared. 

Indeed, not everything can be learned in the four corners of a classroom. Furthering your education can be a life-long investment. I was sure that graduate studies would help me in my career, but it was only later that I realized that there was more to it than I had imagined. It is a conduit to something bigger, better, and way more useful than we believe it can be.

It built my network.

As an independent learner, I did not expect that graduate studies at the UP Open University (UPOU) would lead me to know more people, especially with the self-paced setup, time differences, and distance. In the last seven years–from my masters to doctorate degree– several co-learners I knew had become my classmates at first, acquaintances as we grew, and eventually friends and confidants as we succeeded. They are bearers of experiences I never had and carriers of news I would never have known. They are my regular classmates, sometimes my teachers, too, but friends as always, as UPOU binds us all together regardless of distance and status.

It taught me self-discipline.

Doing graduate studies is not a walk in the park. I have to juggle work, a career, family, and life all at the same time. UPOU offers flexibility as lessons are self-paced. As an independent learner, it is also a challenge to be disciplined, be on schedule, and accomplish the needed tasks. 

At a glance, we must decide and execute what works best for us. It is both liberating and sometimes scary at the same time. We tick our own clock and we are in control of how much we want to know.

Graduate school exposed me to things and experiences pertinent to my journey as a learner. With self-discipline and determination, I have become a better version of myself — better than when I first entered UPOU.

It made me want to share.
Graduate studies is not about competition. In fact, it is about sharing. 

Since we have the learning flexibility and the academic freedom to use whatever online and offline materials we deem appropriate for our courses, it made me want to share what I had discovered and what I had.  

I realized that knowledge and wisdom must not be contained but rather be imparted for it to develop. 

My graduate studies experience humbled me. It made me more appreciative of what I already knew and gave me the openness to discover the things that were meant for me.

Graduate studies is both an opportunity and a privilege to expand one’s horizons. It is scary and unsure at times, but it is always worth it. It is not just about elevating one’s education but also honing skills, discovering our own abilities, and reaching our full potential. 

It is by knowing more that humbles us, as we are exposed to the reality that what we know is not enough and is just the tip of the iceberg of the best that is yet to come. It is an opportunity for us to focus more on character, compassion, and on sharing, and these change our perspectives and our lives for the better.

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