Skip to content

…In Which I Find Myself Accepted To Columbia University

Goodness. Where to even start?

It’s hard to distill almost two years of effort into one blog post, but I’ll do my best.

TLDR* – I’ve been accepted to, and will be starting this fall, the Master of Science in Nonprofit Management program at Columbia University in the City of New York.

Many of you know that in late 2017 I decided it was finally time to tackle the masters degree I had never quite gotten around to. As it turns out, the process of exploring and applying to graduate schools is long and involved. Who knew? Fast forward and I’ve been researching, studying, and applying to various grad programs for the better part of the past year. The original plan had been to apply for a fall 2018 start, but that was pushed back to spring and then fall 2019 for sanity’s sake (and that turns out to have been a wise decision).

I looked into multiple traditional MBA and MPA programs at a number of schools, but kept tripping over Columbia’s Master of Science in Nonprofit Management program in the space between. (For those who don’t know, I’ve been in nonprofit management for two decades now, so this is a perfect fit for my work.) The more I learned, the more impressed I was, and it became my wildcard, “not sure if I’ll get in, but I’ll always regret not knowing if I don’t apply” application (you can download my application essays here if you have any interest in reading them). And, well (after much nervous anticipation and repeated checking)… I got in! That was an amazing letter to read – and reread – and reread – and again. Just to make sure I was reading it correctly!

To say I’m thrilled, and prudently terrified (Columbia’s reputation precedes it), would be an understatement. But I’ve successfully persevered through monumental challenges before (years of sleep deprivation (aka – raising little kids), weight loss, navigating unanticipated job changes, health scares, and running ultras has prepared me well) so I’ll go about this in the same way… with my all, one step at a time, until the work is completed to the best of my ability.

I was very fortunate to spend this past Saturday at Columbia (sorry, Palmer’s Pond 50k!) for an admitted graduate student’s day, learning my way around the campus and the neighborhood (Seinfeld fans, see below, you’re welcome), and meeting with some of my soon-to-be professors and fellow incoming classmates. It was only a brief taste of what’s coming as I dive headlong into my studies later this year, but what an incredible experience to partake in. And validation that I made the right decision. Such an amazing environment to be part of.

For those wondering, no, we’re not moving. The degree is a two-year, part-time program blending live online classes and on-campus components, so I’ll be able to juggle it along with family and work responsibilities without us needing to relocate. It will be demanding, and I’m under no illusion that it will be anything less than one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I’m thankful I have the opportunity to access this degree – and this learning community – in a flexible format.

So the next two years? Are going to be crazy. As if my wife isn’t already a saint (and has been unbelievably supportive in this process), there’s this to add to the list. Lisa completed her Master of Science in Education (MSEd) from the University of New England early in our marriage with two very young children and we both remember how crazy it was. It really is a family affair. Our kid’s interest in this process has been even more than I thought it would be and it’s been exciting to have them along for the ride. So, if you don’t hear from us for months at a time, don’t worry. We’re fine. Just buried. We’ll basically see you all in summer 2021. Please be gracious with me as I will surely be sleep-deprived. Please buy my wife Starbucks. No, I won’t be out running nearly as much (although I’m closing in on day 400 of a mile-or-more-a-day “run” streak and am determined to crack 1,000 days). Please say hello and bring us pizza occasionally (yes, I’m shameless). And please know that I’m only able to do this because I’m surrounded by such a great community of family and friends who both model and encourage the pursuit of amazing endeavors (seriously, you all do, thank you).

Here’s to this next adventure!

If you want to follow along on the journey, the best place is on my professional social media accounts (I don’t anticipate having much time to blog): FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn,


All Images Copyright Ben Murphy, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

*Too Long, Didn’t Read


Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *