It is of no coincidence that one of my top 5 strengths is “learner.” I have always been and will continue to be someone who loves academia. That is one of the main reasons I began to pursue my doctorate in higher education administration from Saint Peter’s University. It had been a year that I had not been in the classroom setting after completing my Masters from Montclair State University. I started to notice this itch that I could not get rid of and that itch was finally gone when I began my first class at Saint Peter’s University in the fall of 2013. I am very happy with my choice to continue my education, but as I look back on it now there are few things I urge everyone to always consider when choosing to pursue a doctorate degree.
One of the first things to consider is the program type that you want for your own experience. Programs these days can range from all in person (yes they do still exist), hybrid, which could mean weekend type of programs or programs that alternate classes between face time and online time, and programs that are completely online. When choosing a program remember how you learn best. For me, a completely online program would not have worked because I need that face to face interaction; however I knew that doing a program completely in person would not have worked with my full time work schedule and so Saint Peter’s hybrid program was the best option for me
If you are potentially looking for a new position that may cause you to move in the near future, or you do not want to be tied down to a location, then a completely face to face program may not be the best option for you. I know there are many different types of hybrid programs from ones that meet once a month on the weekends, to others that only meet in the summer months during the weekend, or those that alternate classes weekly like Saint Peter’s; in other words, there are many options. However a completely face to face program would require you to stay in one location for a bit of time so if that is not your cup of tea look for a program that could easily move with you, so to speak.
When I say tuition, I mean tuition reimbursement or tuition remission. Educational debt is something we are all aware of at this point. Some of us are fortunate enough to have some while others have a ton. At this point I do not believe most of us have no debt, however for your graduate degree, I encourage everyone to begin pursuing a degree, if possible, when tuition remission and/or reimbursement is a possibility. Obviously I never say that this should be the final deciding factor, but when your institution is supporting you personally, professionally and financially, the potential burdens of pursuing a doctorate degree become much less cumbersome.
At the end of the day, if you want that degree you will do whatever necessary to get it, but making sure you made the best decision for you is of the utmost importance.
This post is part of our #SAdoc series, which aims to show that the journey for a doctorate in Student Affairs is about more than just a piece of paper. A variety of SA pros working towards, or who have obtained, their #SAdoc will share their stories of the hustle and struggle of the process; the ups and downs. For more information, please see Kevin Wright’s intro post. Be sure to check out other posts in this series!