Monday, May 14, 2012

And So It Begins

In all honesty, this blog post should have been written almost 3 years ago to the day. This crazy new educational experience I decided to jump into (with both feet and blindfolded) literally took a week to get started. Applied, registered, enrolled, 1 week behind  - all took a week. I ended up having to withdraw from that term (I actually can tell when it's too much too soon) and then registered for my first doctoral program courses that began in May of 2009. Had I taken time to write anything about the coursework and experiences I have had in my program over the past 3 years this message would have quite a different tone.

For most of my program I have been frustrated, annoyed, angry, and disillusioned. That being said, I have loved the mostly online learning experience up until the brief week of stress I had trying to figure out how I would be able to find professors to serve on my dissertation committee. Without being able to take my courses online I know there is no way that pursuing my doctorate at this time would have even been conceivable. Lucky for many of my online classmates too that we didn't have fact-to-face classes as I don't do well masking my facial expressions. The lack of graduate-level writing abilities in my peers has both astounded and thoroughly confused me. The inability to follow a rubric or assignment directions has at times been comical. The number of professors who were lacking in what I consider to be basic teacher skills such as timely feedback, responding to emails, pushing learners to improve themselves, and understanding what it is they are teaching were too much for me.

Thank you to those who listened to my complaints, frustrations, and rants and were there to remind me that I had put in way to much time, effort, and money to stop the wheels from turning. In February I successfully completed my coursework (3.89 GPA) and in March I successfully passed my Comprehensive Exams (exact grade still to be determined). This milestone has earned me the title of "All But Dissertation" or A.B.D. - I am Miss Rachael Tarshes, A.B.D.

This last Saturday I officially started my dissertation blocks. There are 4 blocks to be completed, each one made of 2 Units of work, and lasting about 15 weeks long. I was initially hesitant as the last professor I worked with was lacking in her response time, feedback, and general ability to make sense. I was however able to draft the first parts of what my eventual dissertation will be - at this point it is called a Prospectus. I was feeling okay with what I had but not great and struggling to figure out how I was going to pick a dissertation committee (although this a fore mentioned professor seemed to think it should be her). Luckily, the College of Education Program Chair took over and after grading my COMP exam, made my dissertation committee for me. I met my Dissertation Chair just this last Saturday and I was surely relieved.

Wednesday we have a meeting scheduled to look over my Prospectus together and plan out what my next year of work and research should look like. She provided us the following picture to help explain the journey. I am the only student she's working with who is just starting the process but she has a few about halfway done so I do have the opportunity for some effective support. And so, my journey through the Swamp begins.