Why I Got My Masters Degree Online While Playing in A Foreign Country by Gabi KOEVA

Why I Got My Masters Degree Online While Playing in A Foreign Country

(YES guys, it's possible! It isn't easy, but it sure is possible!)

by Gabi KOEVA (Bulgarian National Team & Besiktas Pro Volleyball Player)

Let me start from long ago...

So there I was, at the age of 13, just having had that conversation with my parents about how I need to choose what I want to do with my life - Whether I should continue studying in the language profiled school I was currently in or I should take a different path and go to a sports profile school to play volleyball more seriously. 

I was so upset that they won't give me any directions, won't tell me what their opinion is that I started crying (Yeah, I'm a girl, so what?). All they would say was:  

If you stay in the language profile school you’ll probably have serious lessons and less time to play volleyball. You’ll most likely grow taller than all your classmates (my father is 205cm tall, my mother 180, both former basketball players) and feel a little bit awkward...just have that in mind.

On the other hand in the sports profile school you will practice twice daily but there’s a chance you get things done a lot easier during the rest of the classes and you might as well not study so hard. The good news is you will be around other tall kids like you, both boys and girls, and you’ll feel more comfortable. It’s your decision what to make, it’s your future and you have to choose it, we won’t make that choice for you!
— -My Parents

I said, "Okay, thanks, you helped a lot! I knew those things already!!!" Here is where my older brother (he graduated from that same language profiled high school I was in) comes in the room, sees me crying and first thing he says is: "I know lots of people graduated from that sports school. They are dumb as (you fill in the blank)..... If you go there you'll make a HUGE mistake!"

So what was I supposed to do? Standing there on the crossroad of the biggest decision in my life so far... I was terrified! It was all up to me and I would have to except the consequences of my choice. What I did was decide to follow my passion for volleyball. Also, along with that to prove my brother wrong and make my parents proud! I enrolled in the sports school and since my grades were always excellent earlier I didn't want that to change either.

I was going to morning practice, then lessons in school, then evening practice. After that I would go home to study, rest and prepare for the next busy day. You can say that I pretty much had no social life until the age of 16-17, except for on the weekends. I was a little bit of a geek in the eyes of my friends, classmates and teammates but that never stopped me. It upset me, of course, but never stopped me! I graduated with a national diploma (Bragging rights: Bulgaria this means I had straight excellent final grades throughout all of the 12 years of high school, in all subjects I'd studied). Don't ask me how that happened, I failed exams and tests, but I somehow made it work but the end of every year and had an excellent (A).

Finishing high school only meant one thing - time to enroll in an university. By that time, I was already playing in Sofia (capital of Bulgaria). I had won the national volleyball championship of Bulgaria (twice) and with that gold medal in hand the most reasonable thing to do was to enroll in the National Sports Academy (NSA) and begin my education to become a coach. (Editor's note: RIGHT?!) I studied there for 2 years and before my 4th semester was over I went to play abroad in Switzerland for Volero Zurich and I couldn't find any solution to continue my education in NSA from distance. 


What most athletes do in that situation is say, "I'll finish it when I come back to Bulgaria, maybe in 10-15 years when I quit professional volleyball...". So I waited. I had one "empty" year during my first season in Zurich and I started feeling as if my brain was slowing down. I didn't know what to do with my free time, so mostly I was watching TV series and movies, wasting time and keeping my head busy with something. I'm sure it sounds familiar to some of you who are reading this. 


So I made a decision - I had to find a way to study something before my brain becomes too rusty. I did some research online about universities allowing satellite education. The idea came from a teammate of mine that was studying at a Serbian university from distance. I thought maybe we have those in Bulgaria also and I just didn't know about them. And I was right! I found what I was looking for and after the season was over I took the necessary exams and enrolled in an university where I would eventually get my major and master in BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION.

It's not easy as I mentioned in the beginning. You'll have tons of books to read all by yourself, a lot of cases and paperworks to write, a lot of problems to solve and let's not forget plenty of dead-ends to keep up with! It can be stressful but the best feeling is the feeling of accomplishment when you do well on an exam, test, colloquium or submit paperwork and see the (positive) response of your professor! 

Let's be honest here!...

We live in a modern society, we have computers, smartphones, tablets, internet and with that unlimited access to tons and tons of information! If you want to find satellite study options in your area you have the tools to do it. (Editor note: Also called distance learning, e-learning and/or Massive-Open-Online-Courses (MOOCs))  Even more, if you are reading this, it means you have already at disposition some kind of an electronic device and internet. It also means you have made the first step (or you were just curious how I got my degree :)), in both cases, THANK YOU for your time and attention!

Now if you want to get your education done while playing professional sports...
GO and research what the options are!

I wish to all of you to stay focused on your goals and to be BOLD!
Gabi Koeva