As a prospective doctoral student, I have heard some perplexing yet challenging advice. When making public your plans to apply for programs, one could receive a mix of excitement and blank stares that nonverbally symbol the word, “why?”. But below is a mix of the more positive advice I received during my doctoral program planning.
I have to say much of the advice that I was given came from mentors and colleagues in doctoral programs. I have heard, “Stop procrastinating and apply”. One of the hardest challenges is narrowing down and sifting through all the awesome Higher Education Doctoral programs out there. There clearly has been a surge of new and enticing programs.
These programs flaunt fast-paced graduation timelines, custom elective choices, research opportunities, cohort modules and unique concentrations. However, it comes down to university fit. Do you see yourself there? Which leads to the next advice I was given, “Go visit the actual campus and meet with faculty.” This advice was very useful in both deciding the program I was interested in and relieving any unnecessary stress about completing a doctoral program. I attended a doctoral program interest dinner, where the program director answered any and all questions along with reviewing the program details. As an incentive for attending the interest dinner, the program director announced that they would waiver the application fee for those who applied that night. I jumped at the opportunity to save $50. I also got a chance to tour the campus, making sure I saw the library and the on campus coffee shop.
Prep for the Dissertation
Also, I heard early in my program search journey that when the time comes, “a dissertation is a dissertation”. Which means to me, “continue making solid decisions throughout your program”. I have encountered quite a few ABD folks stuck in the dissertation writing stage. So, I am committed to being rooted in my research topic to ensure all my class assignments contribute to my dissertation in some way.
Finally, someone recently gave me the following advice and I am using it today. “Use the program search time to begin reading and researching your dissertation topic”. Every evening before I go to sleep, I read at least one article that pertains to my research interest. I also plan to interview those who are currently doing research in my selected topic. I want to know of areas that I can explore deeper and I look forward to experiencing the advice I have received as practice. Here’s to finally finding a doctoral program and to hopefully getting into the program of my choice.
This post is part of our #SADocsofColor series for March. The journey towards obtaining a doctorate degree is long and arduous. This series highlights the stories of those on that journey that identify as men and women of color; stories which aren’t always told and stories that are important.