Next week I’ll be taking my qualifying exams, an exercise designed to judge whether I’ve learned what the faculty in my PhD program want me to have learned. It’s a week-long ordeal, likely involving questions over the administration of higher education, critiquing research methodology, and other such delights (egads!). If I pass, then later this semester I’ll be taking my oral exams… and if I pass those, I’ll finally be an offical PhD candidate, otherwise known as ABD (All But Dissertation).
I’ve spent the last three months preparing for these exams and reflecting on my PhD coursework. I have to say that I never could have dreamed what an amazing experience this has been. I’ve learned far more about higher education than I expected, but even aside from course content, I’ve grown in skill as an independent researcher, cemented my passion for education, and grown in personal confidence. My classmates have become friends formed in the battle trenches of deadlines and sleepless nights. This PhD has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done–and I haven’t even proposed my dissertation topic yet–but it’s also been among the most rewarding.
I wish everyone could have this kind of learning experience, learning that makes you grow as a person, that makes you somehow more yourself than you were before. …Then again, going through the Immense Personal Sacrifice And General Suck of this hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world. 🙂 If I had a nickle for every time I told someone how smart they are for not being in a PhD program, I’d be rich enough to pay off all my student loans. *Pauses to daydream about that possibility.*
*Ahem.* What I was trying to say is, I’m so very grateful to have had this opportunity and the personal support from my family, friends, and amazing colleagues through this experience. You all rock!