My process for deciding to complete a doctoral program began with my experiences as a master’s student and the mentorship I received from my professors at the time. I knew what I was interested in professionally, and they encouraged my burgeoning interests in moving forward with a doctorate over continuing a career in higher education administration after completing my masters’ degree.
I simply applied to programs in the top 15 (based on advice from a faculty member) and made a decision about where to accept based on funding, but largely based on the opportunity to work with certain faculty members. I also factored in the “vibe” I got from other current students and alumni of the programs I was accepted to in order to build the community of support that I knew I needed. It was a leap of faith, but overall, I have no regrets in the decision.
It’s interesting but I had mentors that encouraged and pushed me to start a doctoral program. It took some time because I wanted a program that was supportive and not a form of hazing to get the degree. I also wanted a program that had a social justice focus to some degree. For me, obtaining the degree was not about a title. I wanted to be in a program that emphasized helping others and serving as a change agent but finding that type of program was difficult.
Once I found Antioch, completed the application and interviewed with the faculty, I knew I had made the best decision for me. I also was captivated by the cohort model which offered a level of support and family that, even today, I miss. My cohort members became an extension of my family and we helped one another along the way. I am still in touch with them five years later!
I also was fortunate to have made friends with the faculty. They made me feel as if I could obtain the degree and deal with the intensity and rigor of the program. I knew others in different programs that quit because of faculty treating them as if they were incompetent.
My degree was funded (by way of reimbursement) by my employer at that time. But I have to admit, there were many times that I wanted to quit because I was overwhelmed. The most challenging portion was writing the dissertation. I now understand why so many people are ABD (all but the dissertation). It’s the last hill to climb, but it is a steep one. You have to be prepared for the challenges, criticisms, rewrites, additional research and more.
I have to credit my support network that got me through it. There were many people who were so proud of me even before I got the degree that I couldn’t disappoint them and I didn’t want to disappoint myself.