Credentials are nice, as far as they go. I have plenty, and they have served their purposes. But I would never expect to rest on them, and neither would I expect you to rest on them.
Passing a class is NOT the same as knowing the material. Earning your endorsement is NOT the same as earning their trust. Receiving your certification is shorthand for getting institutional approval, but some institutions make a hefty sum selling credentials.
Better - every time - is to master the subject, and welcome the credential if and when it comes.
Just as a portfolio is better than a resume, so is a mastery of the material better than a credential. One looks better on your wall, but the other looks far better at your interview, when you're negotiating your salary.
Would you trust a medical doctor who stopped learning 12 years ago after she graduated from med school and received her credential? I doubt it. Would you trust a financial advisor who coasts on the credentials he earned in school three decades ago? No - and neither should you.
Never rest on your past successes, your recent awards, or your new acceptance into a program. Instead, be grateful for them, and let them serve you when nothing else will do. But most of all, through study and application, master the material - yesterday, today, and tomorrow. - c