Although I graduated college with undergraduate degree 15 years ago now, several of my decisions I made as I progressed through were very helpful. I was able to finish my degree in a total of three years. I did this without any college credits to start as some students may have from their high school experiences. Personally, I did not have the option to take any college in high school courses or AP classes when I attended high school (they were not an option at my high school at the time). I am not trying to complain just explaining my personal background.
I opted to try to get a job straight out of college. I was blessed enough that my hard work paid off and I was hired as full time teacher directly out of school for the following school year. The salary was minimal and the drive was long but I had a job and that was huge! I worked for a year at that school district and applied at a district that was closer to me that I knew had some openings the next year. I was fortunate enough that I was able to move on to that district for the following school year and I have taught at their high school since being hired 14 years ago now.
I knew that my first teaching position would be a great experience but not necessarily a long term situation because of the 53 miles one way drive. However, it was an awesome learning experience and helped me to get to where I am today. My first school district I taught at was not able to assist with tuition reimbursement. Although I would have had time to start a Masters degree program during that school year, I knew if and when I did start my Masters degree I should have a job that could help with the tuition.
My current teaching position has a tuition reimbursement program (up to a certain amount per pre-approved program credit). With knowing that in the world of education to move up the ladder there are two important items: years of seniority and educational level, I have opted to increase my education over the years. I obtained my Masters degree within the first five years I taught and completed my doctorate (along with my hubby at the same time frame) back in 2013. I am not sure where these years of education will eventually take me, but I knew the earlier on I got them the better it would be for me and my family in regard to moving along the payscale and helping me as an educator. During the times of attending graduate school multiple times (both were brick and mortar programs versus online classes) it was not always easy. I am starting to see those decisions payoff though with having more than 15 years experience now and moving to the top of the pay scale in regard to educational level. Having a job that promotes increasing education by helping with tuition costs also was extremely helpful.