Lori Vann is a licensed professional counselor in private practice. She counsels teenagers and adults dealing with self-injury; and is also a supervisor for interns looking to become licensed counselors.

(Photo Courtesy of Lori Vann)

(Photo Courtesy of Lori Vann)

Why did you pursue a master’s degree? 

“I have known since I was 12 that I wanted to be a counselor; my friends would always come to me asking for advice or needing to vent. In order to achieve that goal, I knew graduate school was a requirement.”

What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree?

“In today’s competitive workforce, a master’s degree may become a requirement to edge out the competition. There are certain fields, such as counseling, where you will not be able to become licensed without a master’s or Ph.D. I would recommend that someone really weigh out the pros and cons (less family time, loans, increased stress) of earning one, as well as consider what the job market is like for that field; what the pay scale is like for it; and what their career goals are and whether or not a graduate degree is needed to achieve them.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master’s degree?

“I lived by myself about 1,500 miles away from my support systems when I attended grad school; I knew that I was in a make-it-or-break-it situation with time, financial stress, safety, and academic management. When you know this is what you want to do, you will find a way to do it. Some of my fellow classmates went to school at night because they were working during the day. If you are not passionate about it, then it will be more difficult for you to succeed. You have to be willing to put in the time to study.”

What was the biggest reward for earning the master’s degree?

“There is a great sense of pride in knowing that you attained a degree that many people never attempt. It was also very affirming to know that because I excelled in that program, having graduated with a 3.9 GPA, that I was in the right field of study.”

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com