Thursday, May 11, 2006

In Pursuit of a Doctoral Degree

This is my doctoral cohort. That means that this is the group of people who started their doctoral program at the same time that I did. We are from all over the country and and all have the same dream. I want to share this dream with you.

I've decided that I need to chronicle my journey towards my doctoral degree. Not because I want to tout my academic prowess, but because I am humbled at how much I am learning when I already thought I knew so much. It amazes me how many brain cells it takes to pursue this dream - a dream I've had for 20 years. I thought I'd have my degree by the time I was 30. Then I thought, well, maybe by the time I'm 40. But it seems that 43 is just as good a time as any!

There are lots of hoops to jump through for this privilege. It begins with the application. Just like when you apply to go to college in the first place, you have no guarantee that they will accept you. This process in itself takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months to complete. Keep in mind that you first have to acquire a master's degree, so you really have to like school in order to submit to more "examining" to prove that "Dr." can go before your name.

I spent more than a year in search of just the right doctoral program. I had a set of criteria that the program had to meet if I were going to spend the time and money chasing this degree. I considered getting my doctorate from my alma matter, the University of South Florida, but the program was too limiting. I wanted to investigate a topic of great interest to me that they didn't offer. I wanted to design my own program so that it would connect me with real life experiences and not just a philosophical or academic exercise. I wanted to be able to practice what I learned, not just learn to pass a competency exam.

I began looking at distance learning programs. I know what you're going to say. They are diploma mills! You can't get a "real" degree! WRONG! I have to admit that I used to think that too, but I've learned that if you look carefully, you'll find a program that both fits you and is accredited.

I chose the Fielding Graduate University out of Santa Barbara, California. Mind you, it is not cheap. Upwards of about $15,000 per year! But praise God for financial aid! I will tell you all the details about getting a doctorate, the delicious and the dirty over the next couple of years. Come along with me on this journey. God knows I don't want to go alone!

Have you thought about getting your doctorate, but something always seems to get in your way? Do you wonder if you're even up to it? Do you think you can't really afford it? I hope that you will let me know. I also hope that some of my cohorts will lend their thoughts to th!is blog as well, so you can see how many different ways you can pursue the same dream.

If you've already gotten your doctorate and want to share your experience, please do so. You'll be an encouragement!

By the way, help support my efforts by completing an online survey for parents. Click here to take survey

Read the next step in the journey towards a doctorate.