Student Perspective: The Full Time Employee and Part Time Graduate Student

Submitted by: Kevin Kelly

Kevin is not only an alum of the program, but a dedicated Suffolk employee for the last 10 years! 

I have been working at Suffolk University for 10 years in the Bursar’s Office and I graduated from the Administration of Higher Education Program in 2010.  My current role is Assistant Bursar of Customer Service and Communication.  I oversee the front staff and provide the support that they need from a supervisor.  I am usually very active in orientation, being the visible representative from my office to speak with students and parents regarding tuition and payment plan options.

As a graduate student, I worked full time and took two classes per semester and this was rough at first. I think time management is key and finding the time to complete all of the coursework – not that it was a lot or overwhelming, just finding the time to read, write, and put together presentations.  It is very common for classes to have assignments due at the same time and I learned quickly how to manage the course load and my time and realized I didn’t have a weekend for most of the academic year.  During finals week of my last semester, I had two huge research papers due on the same day.  I didn’t think I would make it through, but I managed. I arranged time with my classmates – because, you know, we purposely took the same classes – and we went to the library for about three weekends in a row for hours on end in a study room and researched, talked, wrote, and compared notes.  To me, working individually on a paper or project with classmates who have their own schoolwork to complete was the catalyst I needed to make sure I barreled through and didn’t let grad school get me down.  There is no doubt that going to grad school part time and working full time takes dedication and is a huge adjustment, but I implemented my own little tricks to make it work for me.

I took a lot of great classes with great people while I was a student in the program, which made keeping my balance between work and school easier.  During my last semester I completed the Junior/Community Colleges Processes and Problems course.  I enjoyed this class because community colleges are rarely talked about and these institutions are prominent in many parts of the country and are educationally strong.  The student community at many of these colleges is enormous and they provide the same or better of an experience for their students when compared to private colleges and universities at a fraction of the cost.  Community colleges are also a great place to work ensuring their employees are treated just as well as their students, from what I hear.  This course was a lot of fun and the learning process was very refreshing.

Working full time and going to grad school part time is a huge commitment, but it is worth it in the end.  I learned very quickly that weekends were going to be full of schoolwork, and I could go out and enjoy myself, but only after I wrote a few pages of a paper, or researched for a few hours.  I made sure school didn’t overtake my social life, but rather, I incorporated schoolwork into my social life to an extent.