This time last year 3/15/14, I walked across the stage in Nashville, was hooded, and became Dr. Ila R. Allen. It was a long time coming for I thought the end would never be in sight and have my freedom back after six years to make it across that finish line. I look back at all of the classes, papers, money, and time that it took to get to where I am now. I know some of you have been on the journey for a short amount of time and some well…. might be ready to throw in the towel, I knew that feeling too. There are so many reasons that we decide to pursue a doctorate degree from personal to career advancement but we are not prepared as we thought we were, reflections.
Greetings and Salutations! Winter has settled in for a few more bumps especially in the Midwest and East Coast part of the country. Just as snow keeps coming back to Boston so does the re-writes and challenges of the dissertation process. As one goes through an online program you begin to see the differences between your program and the “traditional” program. Being an online student I believe that there is no exposure in terms of academic colleagues (unless online), meet-ups, conferences, etc. I am a firm believer of joining professional organizations in order to engage with those who have the same research interest or methodology.
The holidays are over and January is on its way out the door. Hopefully while on your brief hiatus, you have had time to make new goals and a timeline to reach the next rung on the ladder. When I was part of doctoral process, I made myself take those holidays in order to rejuvenate myself in terms of reassessing my goals. The process does not stop until you have defended and uploaded the dissertation to ProQuest therefore; it is always there beckoning to be finished. A new year tends to lead to a new perspective of what needs to be completed, new goals, what needs to change, and the steps to get there. So, this seems to bring you back to the planning stage like in the beginning.
Hello once again and let’s take a trip down Friendship Lane. In the days long ago before technology was in the forefront people used to call each other, stop by and visit, walk to school together hence fellowship. Now we text, text, and text some more hence technology is first and foremost. Traditional (ground) students get together to have study sessions, meet at a coffee shop, library, or someone’s home. These study sessions are all fine and dandy if your fellow classmates are a car distance away, hop on a train or meet on campus. What about the online student (new traditional) whose classmates and professors are miles, states, or continents apart? Online students need to form online communities of support, networking groups that lend themselves to being able to communicate with their fellow online students.
Happy Halloween (if you partake of the festivities) and November is right around the corner!
This month I would like to talk about what I think about the job search once one has obtained their Ph.D. A lot of people are at various stages of the dissertation process or have completed it. Most but not all have a goal to become a tenured professor for that is what academia has deemed to be the crème de le crème or “Holy Grail” of academic achievement. Depending on one’s particular discipline this may or may not be an option for a multitude of reasons. A lot of you are already adjunct professors and in the pipeline at your institution but for the online doctoral student that is not so much the case if your “home” institution is online.
Let’s Make it Easier-There’s an App for That!
As we all know technology is part of our lifestyle in some form, shape, or fashion. With being a student, technology is most helpful provided you allow it to be. Since I am user of technology for the most part, I still had to make adjustments during my doctoral studies. When I started my program in 2008, I was unaware of the tools/apps there were available to make my life easier. There were the usual Endnotes (free from my school), Zotero, and RefWorks (all web-based) that was used for bibliographies and article tracking. At that particular time that was ok but as I advanced in the program those really didn’t work for me or I was just stuck in my “own way” of doing things.
This time of year the majority of school aged children are returning to school after a summer break. Their parents are purchasing uniforms, new backpacks, and much needed school supplies. The kids have to get in the right mind-set of returning to school and get ready for their first day. The same goes for adults when returning to school. Starting an online program can have an extreme learning curve if you are a “first time” online student.
This post is a continuation of the discussion on dissertation writing. In this post I will go over the tools and resources that I used to get started. Let’s open with pre-writing, which I deem to be getting the thoughts, ideas, and concepts on paper. There are a few methods; some better than others, left to one’s personal preference.
The Learning Curves and Preparation for Writing the Dissertation
As I stated in my first blog, I was not the traditional student. It had been over 20 years since I had been in school when I returned to finish my Bachelor’s degree. There was limited writing in my undergraduate program and the writing that took place the papers was very short in length. I then made the decision to embark on graduate school, and that is where the lack of experience became very real. I was not prepared to write graduate school, academic quality papers but I quickly learned.
Since I have just completed an online doctoral program, I have taken a bit of time to reflect on the process. When making the decision to attend an online doctoral program one must do their homework. Look at all the programs, see how they are facilitated, ask if you can see a past syllabus, etc. just to get the feel of the class. When entering an online PhD program I highly advise one to have a plan of action for you only have seven years to complete the “entire” program (at least at Capella), which is from the first class within your course work through the final dissertation. Find out what the policies are in terms of taking a leave of absence for whatever reason. Understand the dynamics of the asynchronous classroom and the expectations of the instructor for they can vary from class to class and program to program.