I’m nervous. How do I do this? I never thought I would go back to school again after I finished my master’s degree. Why am I doing this to myself? This is a big deal to me. Am I going to like being back in class? I totally got this. What do I sign up for in terms of classes? Breathe. AHH!
That’s pretty much how the conversations have gone with myself about perusing my PhD. I’ve done it. I took the plunge and I applied to take classes again and work on my next educational step. I have a BUNCH of questions, and a lot of thoughts. For anyone else who is also working through this process, maybe we have a few things in common. For those of you deciding what you want to do, maybe this will help. For someone who thought their education was done after their master’s, this is an intimidating process! For those of you already on the other side, I’m jealous of you.
First question: PhD or EdD? The program I am enrolling in has both and I honestly had no idea what the difference was between the two. I began asking around and tried to gauge what others in the field thought of the two. The things I most commonly heard was that a PhD was thought to be more prestigious by some and was heavily influenced by and involved a lot of research. An EdD was more practitioner based and was good if you thought you were going to stay in student affairs. So… one requires more research based classes, discussions and thought processing, while the other focuses more on the theory the actual work/practice itself? Hmm… Decisions, decisions.
Next question: you want my GRE score!? This one really threw me for a loop. I took the test nearly five years ago and have no idea where my scores are or what my login information could possibly be. If you are also in this boat, I would suggest contacting the company and work through them to recover a copy of your original scores. Depending on your program, they may take a copy of your scores, if you can find them, even if it’s after five years, so make sure you ask an admissions representative. This is something that may take a bit of time. And, if your program requires a specific timeline or format of the scores, could you possibly have to take the test AGAIN!? Oh wow, I need to make sure I get prepared as best as I possibly can!
First thought: Plan ahead! Most schools want multiple references and samples of your writing/research/work so make sure all your items are in their best condition before submitting them. Also, ask your references far in advance of when you actually want to turn in your materials. I plan to ask four or five people to serve as a reference for me just to be safe in case one backs out or can’t make the deadline, because life happens. I also have to acquire copies of my transcripts from undergrad and my grad program. That might be a bit of a process and I may only be able to receive hard copies. I need to make sure I look into getting those sooner rather than later.
Second thought: if you are working for a school that is willing to fund some or all of your education, LET THEM. In the words of one of my favorite musicals, there’s “no day but today!” and if you have someone willing to educate you and give you an important degree as compensation for work you are already doing, do it! Plus, the sooner you receive said degree, your pay scale jumps up, (yay!), AND you become a more marketable candidate for a new position or a promotion in the future. You’re worth the investment! I personally see myself as extremely lucky that my institution is willing to invest in me and teach me valuable things from credible professors. We should constantly be working to educate ourselves in the field and stay up to date with our ever changing student populations.
I am definitely still working out the specifics of my own journey, and these are just some of the initial questions and thoughts that got me started. Good luck to us all! Have thoughts and suggestions of your own? Tweet me @lizcadwell