The past month has been a whirlwind with my brother getting married, my youngest starting Kindergarten, and my first three weekends of doctoral classes in the books. With the fall term only being ten class weekends, I am already 30% done with my first semester. I have really enjoyed the entire process, from getting to know my ten person cohort to discovering what ways to best organize myself in my readings, research, and assignments. Here’s what I’ve learned about myself and the process so far.
1. Speed Matters
Most of you that know me well, realize that I prefer to travel, work, run, etc. at optimal speeds This approach has been drastically modified for the purpose of classwork and research. To properly synthesize and absorb the content delivered through the course books and journal articles, a quick skim simply does not suffice. I’ve learned to slow my roll, and ironically, I actually like it (I think)!
2. Electronic Versions Earn a Slight Edge
For my first semester, I wanted to see which method I would prefer consuming information, paper or electronic. To fulfill this, I purchased half of my books on Kindle and half in paper. Initially, I really enjoyed reading the paper versions of the books, flipping the pages, taking in the new book smell… as it reminded me of my graduate and undergraduate school days. The same thing went for journal articles I would print out and read. However, as I enter my second month, I have started to read my books electronically for one simple reason: transferring notations and highlights from Kindle to Evernote are simple and easy. I am all about efficiency and this certainly helps. As far as my journal articles, I’m starting to take notes in Mendeley to centralize all my ideas in one place. Finally, I am using Evernote for all my class notes, including taking photos of any handouts and audio reminders that are seamlessly added.
3. Completing Will Be About Persistence
There have been moments this month where I realized why some folks did not complete their doctoral journey. While some may stop for reasons related to family, work, etc., I recognized the absolute fear that settled in during my second weekend. This fear related to a number of things: the feeling of “Imposter’s Syndrome” (Langford and Clance, 1993), whether I was smart enough to read and write at the doctoral level, and whether I could find the right research topic. Like many that have come before me, I was reassured that persistence and consistent work efforts would lead me down a successful path. Every night since starting this program, I have spent some time on some piece of my coursework. Whether its reading and annotating another peer-reviewed journal article, reflecting about the future of higher education through the eyes of Jeffrey Salingo, Clay Christensen, or William Bowen, or considering my research topic through my Research I class readings in John Creswell‘s “Research Design (4th Ed.)”, staying consistent with my work approach has built the confidence I need to get my work done. I’m even getting the hang of this whole APA thing too
4. My Network Matters (More Than Ever)
I take pride in building relationships and networks and I’m better because of it. Whether in-person and/or online, its these people and networks that have provided me such encouragement, challenge, and support as I push forward. It’s true… you can’t do it alone. To achieve your bigger goals in life, you need the help and support of those around you. Success rarely comes in a solo effort. My family and friends have been so supportive thus far and to the many that I’ve spoken with over the course of this month, thank you. You really have no idea how much it means to me.
I’m excited as I ponder what my dissertation research topic will be. Certainly, it will be something connected to social media, technology and higher education. Since my program is an Educational Leadership focused one, my umbrella topic will most likely fall under retention, identity development, or instructional technology. I haven’t thought through what specific student or staff populations, institution types, methodology, etc. yet, but am excited to use this year to find something I am passionate about. I promised myself to blog about the my doctoral experience at least three times a semester. So as more light bulbs flash or burnout, I will reflect here with all of you.
I’m curious interwebs: What do you think an “Ed Cabellon” dissertation topic is?
Langford, J. & Clance, P.R. (1993). The imposter phenomenon: Recent research findings regarding dynamics, personality and family patterns and their implications for treatment. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 30(3), 495-501.