Oberlin Blogs

What Comes Next

May 3, 2022

Megan McLaughlin ’22

If there is anything I learned throughout my time in the double-degree program, it’s that the field of higher education is complicated and I really like the environment of a college campus. Based on those feelings, my experiences in the double-degree program, and so many other things, I’ve decided that I’m going to spend the next year at Northwestern University pursuing a Master's of Science in Higher Education Administration and Policy.

I’m beyond excited. I didn’t realize until pretty recently that higher education administration was something people get Master's degrees in— especially people who didn’t major or minor in education as an undergraduate, like me. Like my entire college experience, it was a winding road to figure out that this is going to be the next step for me, but I feel really confident in this decision and I’m glad this is the path I’m taking post-graduation.

My interest in higher education built up over my time at Oberlin. Navigating the double-degree program involved me spending a lot of time in the course catalog, looking over curriculum requirements, and giving other double-degree students advice I wished someone had given me. Among other things, I like the organizational aspects of higher education I’ve dealt with so far, and how much I’ve been able to work with students in different capacities. 

Doing work in the Conservatory Admissions Office made me realize how much I had almost no idea what I was looking for when I was applying to colleges. My only criteria were that the school had to have a double-degree program, and I had next to no other thoughts about what might be important to me. Now I have lots of retrospective thoughts, and I’ve really enjoyed giving students tours and answering questions I didn’t think to ask as a prospective student.

Between Conservatory Admissions, tutoring, and assisting some younger double-degree students with advising, most of what drew me to higher ed was the student-facing aspect, which is maybe what I want to do long term. I think it’s very possible that my primary area of interest within the field of higher education will change as I go through my Master's— right now I think it may be academic advising, but it could be completely different a year from now. Regardless, I think I would really enjoy ending up at a music school again. 

I have my regrets with what I wish I’d done in my undergraduate education, but I think there’s something special about being in a music school, and I would like to return to it at some point. Double-degree programs especially are calling my name— Northwestern has one. Several places have one, and having gone through one myself, I have lots of ideas for how to make them more accessible and feasible for students.

I feel good about what comes next. I’m confident that higher ed is a good fit for me in pretty much every regard. I’m really happy I’m going to Northwestern—my lovely mother went there for undergrad and medical school, and I think she’s delighted that I’m ending up there for grad school after not applying for undergrad. I’m excited that I’m going to be in Chicago; a lot of my family lives in the area, so I’ll be close to them, and I think it’ll be nice to spend most of my twenties in a city. I already have tickets to see Lizzo in October.

Being a double-degree student was complicated, and college is hard, but I feel grateful for how everything worked out, even if it wasn’t the smoothest ride. Last but not least... here it is, boys— here it is, world: the picture of me on the campus I’m going to call home next year. What a long way I’ve come from the picture of me in Tappan Square from five years ago.

Megan stands in front of a stone and iron arch that reads "Northwestern University." It is a sunny day. She wears a light jacket and has one hand in her pocket while the other is at her side holding a pair of sunglasses. She is smiling.
Photo credits to my mom, Vallerie, Northwestern class of 1985.

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