Earlier this year I posted about the dilemma of finding a topic for my dissertation. I can honestly say that at the beginning of this thing I had no idea the time and energy that it would entail. Any advanced degree in the social sciences typically involves a lot of writing and this particular one has been no different. Two LOOOOOONG years of classwork have recently ended with the last class being a doctoral level statistics class that I thought I was going to epically fail. However, I passed by the literal skin of my own teeth with a “B.” While I like distance learning, I also like the interactions that come along with being physically present in a traditional classroom. While I’ve been consistent with keeping up with the expectations of my program and turning in my assignments on time, I haven’t taken it seriously. It’s been a time consuming hobby. Not because I don’t take my life and professional goals seriously, but because I picked a fairly broad concentration that combines work I’ve completed in other disciplines. The next hurdle is that of starting, working on, and completing my dissertation. Thankfully I’ve finally arrived at a topic and after 3 months of emails and subsequent rejections have finally finalized a dissertation committee. So now I can categorize myself as ABD (all but dissertation) in the scholarly world. I can add “PhD. Candidate” to my email signature and even apply for jobs in higher ed. An added bonus was the fact that I could take a three month break and still be on track to graduate on time. All that being said, one of the interesting facts I learned this summer was that only 1.9% of people who start a doctorate complete it. That means that 98.1% of people who start one do not finish. That fact is motivation for me to finish what I started and to add another set of initials behind my name. The school thing isn’t finished and won’t be for a bit but with some dedication and consistency combined by my decision to take school seriously at this point in the game I’ll conquer this last mountain.
Hi Alisha, Great post and congratulations. I wish you’d been in our Cohort 1 class in Barcelona as we had a great conversation about just this topic. First- please don’t use the term ABD either verbally and especially on your CV or job applications. It isn’t considered professional because it isn’t an actual academic status. It could hurt your chances of getting a position. While PhD Candidate is an acceptable term to use, the harsh reality is that it will be very hard for you to find a full-time position until your degree is conferred. This is simply because of the current job market. For every one position in higher ed, there are approx. 100 applicants. Most of whom not only have earned Doctorates or PhD’s, but have published academically. Also, in order to adhere to accreditation requirements, most Institutions must have full time faculty with earned Doctorates or PhD’s. If you are considering Adjunct teaching or teaching full time in a non-regionally accredited institution, you might be able to get in. However, please be careful because doing so could hurt your chances to move into a respectable institution down the road. I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but rather to help you avoid any possible disappointment down the road. Let’s talk more about this in person or on the phone. Take Care!
Thanks so much for commenting! Ironically, I was in cohort 1 in Barcelona and I remember that group discussion and it was extremely insightful. You are absolutely right! Those three initials won’t be found on academic or job related documents because they have a certain stigma connected to them. I used them in this post for creative writing purposes, but I do understand the importance of not using them in professional settings.