When I decided to go back to school for a second degree, I originally planned to study anthropology. However, the university most convenient to me only had programs in cultural anthropology, not physical anthropology. After a very helpful discussion with my anthropology professor who had a background in physical anthropology, I decided to go into the biology program for a B. A., which is where I am now.
When I started this journey, I wanted to study the intersection of biology and behavior. Thanks to that aforementioned professor, I understood I could approach that topic from any of several avenues. For example, I could study those questions from the viewpoint of psychology, or neuroscience, or biology, or chemistry, or philosophy, or anthropology.... Almost any school on the campus. It was just a matter of picking which angle I wanted to study.
I chose biology. I wasn't just interested in how human biology and behavior intersected, but how it had evolved and manifested in all animals. I thought biology would give me the widest foundational understanding of nature from which to move onwards and upwards.
Along the way, however, I got distracted by other interesting avenues and sort of forgot my original questions. I got to thinking being a field biologist would be fun. And it would be if it meant studying behavior and biology and recording what the animals do; like Jane Goodall did with chimps. But that doesn't seem to be the main thrust of modern biological study... or just not for undergrads... or not for undergrads at my school. My school seems much more interested in training people for medicine and health science careers or the biotech industry.
Anyway, I also got distracted by my love of the forest, nature, wildlife, and birding. I began thinking a career in environmental science would be the right direction to pursue those interests.
I forgot my original questions. So it's no wonder that I began feeling more and more trapped, out of kilter, uncomfortable, and almost with a sense of dread when thinking about the future. I was feeling as if starting this expensive journey had been a huge mistake in the first place.
Just in the last 24 hrs, I've had a renewal. I've reconnected with my original questions and goals, and I'm rethinking my grad school plans from a completely different angle. I'm thinking a M. A. philosophy degree is the perfect solution, and a good first step towards an eventual PhD. This background in biology gives me an excellent foundation from which to understand one-half of my questions; studying philosophy of mind seems like an obvious and rewarding extension for the other half.
And none of that means I have to give up anything about what I'm already doing. I can continue to write, paint, photograph, enjoy nature, the forest, wildlife watching, birding; and I will be able to work at the Park Service or Fish and Wildlife as long as I want.
It's unique, this path, but when have I ever taken the easy, direct road? I love the scenic route.