Tomorrow I begin the third semester of courses in my quest to obtain a doctorate in education. To date, I have taken five courses, established lifelong friendships and connections, and have enhanced my own learning beyond what I possibly could imagine.
Over the past six months, numerous people have asked me my reasoning for why I decided to pursue a doctoral degree so I decided to sit down and write a piece about it. Here are my top reasons for why you should apply to a doctoral (or any graduate level) program.
Knowledge Communities + Lifelong Learning
Knowledge communities are safe, storytelling environments where educators narrate the rawness of their experiences, negotiate meaning, and authorize their own and others’ interpretations of situations. Now you may be sitting there thinking, yes, this is more commonly referred to as the faculty room. And you’re right, it can be! Knowledge communities can be both found or created, the main requirement being that they are built upon shared experiences rather than bureaucratic and hierarchical structures. However, if you operate within an organization where opportunities for this type of community to emerge is stifled or the organizational culture minimizes this type of collegiality, you can find a harmonious knowledge community within any graduate level program. These knowledge communities are organically lived, fueled by a practical view of knowledge, and my favorite feature is that they can exist based on membership from various groups. My doctoral knowledge community has members that are assistant superintendents, building administrators, teachers, and members from the sector of higher education. Together, we share experiences and engage in conversations dedicated to pushing education further, devoid of any held titles, instead, recognizing each other for what we are by nature, educators and lifelong learners.
Getting connected has by far been one of the biggest takeaways during my time in the doctoral program. Since the inception of this program, I’ve grown my tribe to include K-12 teachers, building administrators, district-level administrators, and educators who operate in the area of higher education. These connections have served me well during my time within the program. I’ve acquired invaluable knowledge and advice from colleagues that have been in education as long as I’ve been alive! The potential for opportunities to collaborate both within and outside of the program in addition to the amount of personal growth I am experiencing due to these connections validates my decision to apply to this doctoral program and begin the journey of becoming Dr. Dziuba.
PEDs – Pedagogically Enhanced Decisions
While they may be banned and considered cheating in the sports, taking copious amounts of PEDs within education is a regimen I strongly encourage you to engage in! To put it simply, your abilities both as a learner and an educator will increase exponentially by taking part in a graduate-level program. In addition to the endless amounts of conversations that you’ll have with those around you about pedagogical strategies, professional development offerings, or technology implemented in classrooms, buildings, and organizations the information that you will glean from the literature that you incessantly bombarded with will provide you with a plethora of options to choose from that will enhance your instruction and support you in your efforts to deliver a world-class education to your students. Furthermore, you can serve as a spark within your organization and share your knowledge regarding PEDs and improve the instructional practices of your colleagues.
Lastly, and in my personal opinion the most important, applying to a doctoral program was a decision I made to serve as a better role model for my two younger brothers, Nick and Giovanni, as well as my students. I don’t have children but if I did they would also be included with the above mentioned for who I wished to positively impact with my decision to enter the program. Simply applying to a doctoral program served as an opportunity for me to engage in a conversation with my youngest brother, a junior in high school, about not letting where you come from define what you think you are able to accomplish and that in order to compete in the rapidly-changing society that we live in, you must continuously set new expectations for yourself and look to improve. Being the Class of 2020 co-advisor I have also made a commitment to my students that I will finish and defend my dissertation by the summer of 2020 and that they in-turn must make the same commitment to me and graduate and make plans to pursue additional opportunities beyond high school. Wish us both luck!!!
In the future, I plan on writing a post featuring some tips to help those of you who have recently embarked on a journey to obtain a doctorate in education but for those of you mulling it over and considering applying here’s a Bow-Tie Joe helpful hint:
Most programs don’t concern themselves with GRE scores. It’s simply a matter of ensuring you have the resiliency to go and complete a standardized test.
Bottom Line: GO TAKE THAT TEST and APPLY!
Thanks for reading and sharing!