I have always loved a good challenge.
In 7th grade our teacher said that we were going to have a reading competition over the summer. Come to school, check out a book, read it, take the comprehension quiz for the book, pass it, and then move on to the next book. The person with the most books read (and quizzes passed) won. Simple enough.
The prizes were not that illustrious but I remember that the winner would receive candy and a free T-shirt–neither of which are things that I love, but it was the spirit of the competition and the chance to read as many books as possible that won me over.
That fall we had an assembly to announce the winners. “In third place with 29 books is….” I have no idea who came in second or third place. I was so intensely focused on the winner of the competition. But I DO remember that my teacher announced “In first place, with 137 books is…Ann Marie Klotz!” In short, I have always been a school nerd. I own it.
I have never been the smartest kid in school but I think that my hard work ethic makes up for whatever I lack in intelligence. I am a believer that hard work always pays off and that the limits to what I can accomplish are not determined by anyone else but me. This mantra has worked for me through K-12, college and 2 Masters degrees. There was no reason to believe that this wouldn’t be the case for the rest of my life.
And then I started the doctoral journey.
Friends, I have never found myself saying/thinking “I can’t do this” more than the past two years in my doctoral program in higher education. The amount of reading/thinking/producing is exhausting and progress is slow towards even getting close to being able to START the dissertation process.
It’s isolating. Only people who are in doctoral programs or have completed them understand this. Your social life takes a major hit. All of the tricks that I employed to successfully complete other pieces of my educational journey don’t apply. It’s you and your books.
A classmate recently said to me “Remember when we used to have hobbies?” Yes, I do. I miss those days.
I was feeling like perhaps this wasn’t the place for me about 6 months ago. I kept asking myself if it was worth it and I wasn’t sure of the answer.
Then, one day my dear friend Lynn Ellison (@lynnellison) shared her thoughts on Twitter about her own struggle with working full-time and getting through a terminal degree program. I sent Lynn some positive thoughts via direct message (DM) and together we wondered if there were other folks who felt like us.
We decided to create a monthly Twitter chat for people in higher education doctoral programs who wanted an electronic support system. We talked about balancing work/school/life. We shared best practices for the writing stages. Members wrote their tips for securing a dissertation chair. This community continues to keep the conversation going by using the #sadoc hashtag when sharing a tip or school-related story.
Some of the thoughts have been practical, some inspiring but all are appreciated.
(KevinRGuidry) Kevin R. Guidry
I’m working hard to figure out the organization of my methodology chapter. Many moving parts but how do I discuss them all? Do I? #sadoc
(lynnellison) Lynn Ellison
Listening to a webinar on NVivo 9 – not to this point in #sadoc, but I can already see how this will be helpful if I choose qual methods.
(LaurieABerry) Laurie Berry
Thankful that I have a couple a stat tutors to help me from becoming a permanent resident in #statsjail. #sadoc
(Bluegbb) Blue Brazelton
a lot of reading this weekend about doctoral persistence…grateful i have a cohort, great advisor, and strong core courses at MSU #sadoc
(MikeSevery) Mike Severy
just got a text from an #sadoc cohort member reminding me tonight is a posting deadline. Nice to have people looking out for you w/o asking.
A few weeks ago my mom sent me some old pictures in a card. One of the pictures has me clutching my 7th grade certificate for winning the reading contest in 1992. I am grinning from ear to ear. This picture–and my new #sadoc community–is now my motivation to finish.
If you are a doctoral student in higher education–or are thinking about enrolling–I hope you will consider joining our on-line community. Our next #sadoc chat is on February 15th at 8:00 p.m. CST.