Skip to main content

Online M.Ed. in School Counseling Paves Way for Michael Jones

Lamar University graduate, Michael Jones, with his family

After 15 years of working excessively long hours as a teacher and band director, Michael Jones was overdue for a more conventional work schedule.
Mission accomplished.

Jones is in his first year as a counselor at Rockwall High School in Texas after graduating from Lamar University with an online Master of Education in School Counseling. He is also no longer a band director, which has opened up a whole new world for Jones.

“Counseling is a higher skill job than what I was doing, but it lets me go home and have the evenings with my family, and I haven’t worked a weekend all year,” Jones said. “I have a young son [Duncan] — and it has remade our relationship. My wife [Sunny] is happier. She feels like I have more energy to do things when I do have time off. We’re connecting better, as well.”

Jones has even been able to extend his free time beyond his home life.

“I’m kind of enjoying going out and doing new things and exploring new hobbies,” he said. “Probably one of the biggest changes, since my schedule is more steady, is I’ve gotten much more involved with my church. As a matter of fact, I’m so regular in my attendance I was elected a growth group leader recently. That’s just something I take on that’s real important to me.”

A Student Again

Michael Jones, band director

Michael was a band director for many years.

Jones had to decide which direction he wanted to take his career in education to begin his journey.

“I had always considered going back to get a graduate degree,” he said. “I decided on counseling just based on my experience as an educator. My opportunities for personal growth from where I was were either in counseling or administration, and counseling just seemed like a better fit for me.”

After doing research on universities close to Rockwall, where Jones also grew up, he quickly discovered he would need the flexibility of an online program because of his hectic schedule.

“None of the programs were flexible with their schedules — and I asked them to be,” Jones said. “I could not have earned my degree and continued to work. Obviously, that would not have worked out very well for my family. So, I went ahead and looked at the online programs. Lamar University was one I felt comfortable with. I liked what I saw. They were accredited and it was the right number of hours, so I decided to go back to school.”

The flexibility proved to be just what Jones needed to earn an M.Ed. in School Counseling online 13 years after he earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Texas A&M University-Commerce.

“The amount of time it took to be successful in the classes was reasonable,” he said. “Working 60 to 80 hours a week, it wasn’t easy to find time — especially with a young kid running around while I was trying to do the work. But, I found I probably spent an average of about 15 hours a week on school. I felt like that was perfectly manageable. I never struggled to get it done.”

Jones said he had plenty of moral support from his family and friends.

“I’m an academic person, so I don’t think anybody was terribly surprised,” Jones said of going back to school. “But, I know that I inspired at least one of my other friends to also go back and work on his graduate degree.”

Jones said he started his online degree program just as his wife was wrapping up nursing school.

“I wanted to wait until she was done with nursing school, but on a Saturday morning she told me, ‘Just do it,’” he said. “Monday morning, I signed up to do it while she was still in nursing school. She was really the catalyst to get going.”

Hands-On Experience

Jones said the course in the Lamar University online degree program that prepared him the most for his new job was School Counseling Practicum [CNDV 5390].

“I just enjoyed the heck out of that class,” he said. “I was actually getting hands-on counseling experience. I was regularly meeting with my professors. In some cases, it was just me and another student with a professor, for an hour.”

Not only that, but he was able to do his practicum at Rockwall High School.

“Hopefully, I did a good enough job and that’s why they hired me,” he said. “I guess the proof is in the pudding. Honestly, I developed a professional relationship with my professors as I went through the program, but we’ve continued to be friends even after I’ve exited the program. I think that is extraordinary.”

Jones said he was amazed at the accessibility of his professors.

“During my practicum class, I had an issue with one of my assignments that had been graded,” he explained. “It was something that needed immediate attention. I had my professor’s cell phone number. All I did was send her a text. She was back in touch with me within 10 minutes. It was incredible, and that’s just what it was always like. I never had trouble reaching the professors. I had an easier time reaching my professors in the online program than I did in my undergraduate, by far.”

In fact, Jones said the online M.Ed. in School Counseling program exceeded his expectations.

“I wondered how easy it would be to communicate with my professors; I wondered if I’d have the self-discipline to get through the classes,” he said. “Not only did I have the self-discipline, but I graduated with a 4.0, which was much better than my undergraduate GPA. I wouldn’t tell you it was easy, but it was reasonable, manageable, and, if you do the work, it will help you be successful.”

Graduation Day

Michael Jones' graduation from Lamar University

Jones is glad he was able to attend his graduation ceremony at Lamar University in December 2015.

“I talked my mom into driving down with me,” he said. “I took my wife and son. We made the trip from Rockwall down to Beaumont. It was a fun experience. What was really kind of fun about it was meeting some of the people that I had been collaborating with the last two years who I never met face-to-face.

“Then, when we meet each other, we start reminiscing about, ‘Oh, remember when we had this class and did this?’ It was kind of fun to do that and also to meet some of the professors I worked with for the first time, in person.”

As for his new career path, Jones is confident he made the right decision.

“I was scared to get out of band directing,” Jones said. “I wondered if I would be good at anything else because, really, music is all I’ve ever known. I think I might be a better counselor than I was a band director. It is a much harder job. I did move into a job that requires more skill, more training and more education. That requirement shows itself every day. Like I said, it’s more manageable, the rest of my life. I’m close to 40 now, and what kids are experiencing now in school is a totally different experience than what I had in high school.

“As far as what I expected, I knew what counseling was, but I can tell you right now I’m amazed almost daily about what students come in and share with me about what they’re dealing with and struggling with. The thing that’s also amazing is the resources you have as a counselor to help these students. It sends you home with a warm, fuzzy feeling sometimes. That’s awesome.”

Learn more about the Lamar University online M.Ed. in School Counseling program.

Related Articles

Request More Information

Submit this form, and an Enrollment Specialist will contact you to answer your questions.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Or call 866-223-7675

Begin Application Process

Begin your application today!

Or call 866-223-7675 866-223-7675

to talk to a representative.

  • Choose All That Apply