I’m wholeheartedly convinced that most people don’t understand the blood, sweat and tears that goes into getting a PhD. For some it’s an easy process and for others it’s long and exhaustive. I first started at the tender age of 22 and I am nearing the finish line 5 years later. It’s been a series of rejections one one after the other. I once went back and counted and for just one phase of my dissertation I submitted revisions 39 times. It was crazy. I even had to change my topic which set me back as well. But I feel motivated to push forward and to remember why I started. I’m ready to transition into something different and possibly more fulfilling. I want to be free and I want something that allows me the flexibility to live wherever I want. Life goals.
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.
As some of you may know, I made the (somewhat) dumb decision of continuing my education after my post-graduate program. So now I’m doing a doctorate. I’m a little over a year in and while I’m not crazy about school, I’m doing it for a variety of reasons related to increasing my credibility as a professional. Getting married would have a similar effect but I don’t believe in counting eggs before they hatch so a doctorate it is. Schoolwork up to this point has been ok. I decided that after finishing college with a 3.7 cumulative GPA and finishing graduate school with a 3.9, I wasn’t going to worry as much about grades in this program. I don’t know of one person who brags on their doctorate program GPA. People just care that you finished. Plus, a 70 is a passing score. The biggest part of doing a doctorate is starting and completing a dissertation. Basically a huge research project where you study a topic in depth. Who hasn’t figured out a topic yet? Me. I would love to study something fun but getting a decent sample for qualitative research would be incredibly time consuming. I’m considering the quick and dirty route where I pick something fairly easy that does the trick without me having to overextend myself. But doing this would mean that I would do a fun dissertation on my next doctorate or masters in some off the wall random topic. So I’ve given myself a deadline of February next year to figure out a topic. I know it will have something to do with couples, relationships, therapy, consultation, and effectiveness but I’m not sure of all the details. A topic that I could write a book on might also be something worth considering. But that being said, I need to figure it out. Soon.