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Diary of a Nervous PhD Student: My Decision

As you remember from my first post about being accepted into my PhD program, it was something that was an amazing and exciting next step in my academic and professional journey.

I ordered my books about a month ago. I got them and….left them in the box.

This is when things kind of got strange for me. Because that’s not like me (as my friend pointed out when I called and told her my final decision). I had chapters to read! A paper to write! I’ve always, at the very least, opened my books to look through them. Not this time.

It was about to come together for me.

About two or three weeks ago, I got an email from the supervisor from one of my classes. One class we have to take is a practicum, which means we’d be working in a clinic (I was excited about this). What it also means is that we have to be supervised (which is necessary) and it had to be with someone within the program, and outside of class time. The email was her introducing herself, letting us know that she is aware we work full time, and that she doesn’t work in the evenings.

What.

But…….

So I went back and fourth with her. Her telling me about being flexible, and me informing her that I don’t need flexibility and sacrifice explained to me, as I am NO stranger to it, as indicated by my successful academic track record. I was honest with her and told her that I was frustrated because one line she’s telling me she knows we work full time, and then the next line she’s saying she doesn’t work in the evenings. She suggested to me, more than once, that I leave work in the middle of the day to meet with her. And again, I told her that I just can’t up and go missing from my job for almost 3 hours in the middle of the day (45 minute drive there and back, and meet with her for 45 minutes).

After explaining that, she opened an evening time. It would mean me going up to the campus another evening, but whatever. Sacrifice, right? So that was worked out.

All is well!

Last week I got a phone call from the professor of that same class. He wanted to know if I could come in the middle of the day to run a group session, which is a requirement for the class.

WHAT!?

Guyssssss! I WORK!?!?!?!?

In orientation, we were told that the group session would be apart of our clinic time (4:30 – 9:50!!!!!!!). But now he was telling me that he DIDN’T want it during clinic time, and that I needed to get it done outside of class time. To be fair, he was very nice about it. He tried to work with me. He asked if I could run a group at my job (I did my internship here for my master’s program). I can’t. Summer is our busy season and when I am at work, I’m going to be expected to be in my office, doing my job. But. We came up with a plan.

At the end of it all, I wrote out what my weeks, for ten weeks, would look like with the changes.

Mondays – getting home at 10:30pm (at the earliest)

Tuesdays – getting home at 10:30pm (at the earliest)

Wednesdays – getting home at 11:00pm (at the earliest)

Thursdays – work late

Fridays – work

Saturdays (two times over the summer) – have to go up to the campus for an all day doctoral workshop/class

All of this with my days starting out around 5:30am.

I looked at this and wondered…..HOW. When am I gonna study? When am I gonna read? When am I gonna live? HOW AM I NOT GONNA DIE!?

By the way, my job has been SUPER flexible. They let me work out my hours so that I could get to class on time (in the summer, we work until 5:30pm). Leaving two hours earlier one day, even earlier that that the next day…and letting me make up the hours on the weekend (we don’t work on Fridays during the summer). My job has been MORE than accommodating.

After looking at that schedule, I called my mom and said, “Mom, I’m thinking about not starting the program this summer.”

Her response? “Okay.”

Which shocked me, to be honest. She then said, “Tash, when you decided to do everything else, it all fell into place. There was NO hesitation on your part. It was just done. Maybe this is letting you know it’s not the time right now. Take some time. Pray about it. Think about it.”

She was absolutely correct.

Later, I spoke with my close friend and my former clinical supervisor. They both gasped. My friend was like, “WHYYYYY?” LOL. They knew how excited I was, and what I went through to get into this program. But then I explained the latest developments with them and laid out my schedule. They both agreed with me. My supervisor has gone through a doctoral program and even he said that was a tough schedule to keep up with week after week, and be present at work. He said that whenever I started, I wanted to have a GOOD first semester, and not set myself up for failure.

Again, absolutely correct.

My mind is made up, and my decision is that I am not going to start the doctoral program this upcoming summer semester.

But watch this.

I explained all of this to the director of the program. I asked him about options. Can I do a fall start (the program always starts in the summer)? Can I substitute the practicum for another class (it is a cohort model so all of our classes are already laid out)?

He told me no to both of those.

But he also told me this:

“As Director of the Doctoral Program, I can (and will) move your admission to next summer’s cohort.  So you will start next year.”

Just like that.

Isn’t it funny how things work out? I FULLY believe this is God saying, “There are some things you KNOW you need to do before starting this. But I wanted you to know that you CAN have it. It’s yours. Just not right now.”

There have been some moves that I’ve wanted to make at my job…and have procrastinated doing so. If everything works out, my current situation will not be the same situation by summer of 2016. More on that later, but in (and through) it all, I trust God, and believe in myself, to get it done.

I’m at peace with my decision. I didn’t even cry (which is HUGE)!!! I don’t want to have more stress than necessary. I don’t want to burn out. And I want to go into the program with enough time to properly dedicate to it and with a certain amount of experience.

So here we are.

I have been admitted into the Counselor Education, PhD program, to start Summer 2016.