So, here’s my silly confession: quantitative data terrifies me.

I always thought that if I kept my mouth shut and avoided anything maths related,I would be able to get by without too much pain. I’d fallen into a nasty habit of depending on what I do well, and totally circumventing what I wasn’t all that good at. However, my academic interests leaned so intensely on economic development theory. I found that avoiding quantitative data was pretty much impossible. After graduating from my undergraduate institution, I really regretted not taking courses that I’d considered difficult, just because I didn’t want to jeopardize my GPA, or add undo stress into my life. It wasn’t as easy to learn those fundamental theories without the support and resources offered at an academic institution.

When signing up for my graduate level courses at GSE, I knew that enrolling in an economics of education course was really fundamental to my professional development. However, the same fears of failure kept creeping up inside of me. I was allowing my fear of failure to direct my own educational experience, and limiting myself from taking advantage of the student experience. (which is fundamentally based upon resiliency and overcoming difficulty.) If there is any time to test out the world and expand your skillset, it’s in graduate school! The possibility of failure was really psyching me out, and limiting my future learning possibilities.

After gaining a lot of advice from close peers, and reassessing my own thought process in the matter, I decided on the fact that I should look into courses that I DO find difficult, simply because that is where I will get the most growth out of. I did end up enrolling in the economics of education course, and of course, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I’d made it out to be in my head. I actually ended up really enjoying the coursework, and I was surprised by how quickly I was able to make the academic transition once I really put away my obsession with perfection.

 Graduate school is really about matching up your interests and your comfort zone, and testing just how far you can push those boundaries. Once I let go of my fear of failure, I was made privy to a whole other level of personal growth and development. This is one of the best pieces of advice I ever received during the beginning of my graduate program. My achiles heel was economics, but I really recommend to anyone considering programs to look into opportunities that will feel challenging, and sometimes uncomfortable, since it is here that lies the greatest opportunities of growth.