Depending on the institution, your comprehensive exam(s) is another hurdle to jump through to obtain your Ph.D. Some institutions call them your comprehensive exams, others call them qualification exams. I just finished my two qualification exams, and I feel good … kinda!
I hope I did well, but to have these exams in the middle of the semester while I am teaching, research, and conducting other academic responsibilities can be stressful and overwhelming! Don’t fret … I chose to do them in the middle of the semester, so I guess I asked for it.
They say that if you made it far enough to the qualification exam process then there is no reason why you wouldn’t do well on the exams. I sure hope this is the case. Anyhow, I’m one step closer to ABD … all but dead!
Know that when you get to this point, you are not alone! I had lots of support from friends, family, colleagues, and professors and advisors. Thank you all!
Last Friday morning, I began the first weekend for my qualifying exams. As a third year student in my program, it is now my time to work towards completion of my degree. The qualifying exams for the Higher Education and Student Affairs Program consists of two questions spread over two weekends. I received the first prompt at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. My 20 page response (minus appendices and bibliography in APA format) was due on Monday afternoon by 4:30 pm. (Which means that in less than 9 hours, round 2 will begin!!!!!!!!)
Qualifying exams are designed for doctoral students to demonstrate the wealth of knowledge that they have received during their academic tenure. The purpose is to respond to an issue or problem using the tools that I am supposed to have gained in 2.5-ish years. As my second weekend approaches, I am certain that I have written wwwwaaaaaaayyyyyyyy better papers than that. However, I am confident that I demonstrated that I have learned and can apply the knowledge of my field.
I am so excited to finish this last semester of coursework. As I contemplate the next year or so of my life, where I will be writing my dissertation, I am confident that I have gained tools and have had experienced here at Indiana University that has laid a foundation for me to become a leader in my field.
The summer is fast approaching! Although, many of my friends and fellow grad students are preparing to go on to an industry (or research lab) summer internship, where they can gain professional experience, as well as earn some extra money, my summer plans are quite straightforward: I will be alternating between preparing for my Qualifying exams and working on my research projects. It will not be until after the quals that I will have time to enjoy Bloomington’s weather, as well as visit nearby cities and go to some baseball games.
The spring semester is coming to an end! One presentation and one exam will sealed my second year as a doctoral student at IU. Furthermore, I am really excited to conclude this semester because it marks the fulfillment of all course requirements of my PhD program! Although courses have been fundamental in my development as a student and researcher, I am looking forward to move closer to the “holy grail” for a PhD student: full-time research! This semester I had the opportunity to spend most of the time working on my research projects and it was terrific and very rewarding. There is no substitute to being able to do what one loves every day. However, there is one more hurdle in my PhD journey: Qualifying Examination. Therefore, starting next week, I will focus all my energy on preparing for the Qualifying Examination. The Quals will be in about a month, thus, all fun is postponed until further notice.
One more test. That’s it. One more exam and I can conclude my first year as a doctoral student at IU. This has been far the most challenging semester of my graduate experience. My doctoral classes have literally forced me to think outside of the box and challenge myself to take charge of my learning. Throughout this year, I do believe I have a greater understanding of the higher education as a field of study and what is required to be a successful contributor through research and practice. Statistics has been the most challenging class of my entire collegiate career. (haha..) There have been days when I have questioned if challenging myself to grasp quantitative analysis is really worth the stretching of my brain. As as a lover of qualitative research, I chose statistics this semester as a way for me to expand my ability to be effective in future research. I think that I have achieved a wonderful appreciation for the impact of quantitative analysis in my field. What I will be taking away from this statistics experience, is a new challenge to take harder classes. I do not want to continue just to take classes and conduct research in the areas I am most comfortable with. Rather, I look forward to taking boundaries away from the preconceived notions of where I have thought my research topics should be. Reflecting over the past 18 credits of this year, I made the right choice in coming to IU. Professionally, I can acknowledge the qualities that I bring to my job and what I am able to offer the students I work with. Academically, I can’t wait to start an independent research project this summer!! And, I do believe that it will be quantitative. The next few years will continue to be more challenging, but I find comfort in my support system at IU. There are endless opportunities to succeed at this university, I am very blessed to be here.
The semester is ending in two weeks. [Insert surprised exclamation of choice here such as "Egad!", "Wha?" or "Whoa!"] Point being that I have a final paper, a manuscript revision, data analyses, and TA duties looming in the next few weeks. Some of you might be thinking, “Pssshh! That’s nothing!” And I am almost inclined to agree with you.
I say almost because I have a serious obstacle in my path. Something that makes the hill-ish pile of work ahead appear to be more akin to a mountain. Not quite Mt. Everest, but definitely up there. So what is this obstacle? It’s a game that some of you might know as Bejewelled Blitz. It’s a fairly popular game on Facebook. According to their Facebook page, there are currently 11,463,184 monthly active users. Sadly, I am one of them. Every Tuesday, when the weekly scores have been cleared, my need to establish an ever higher high score manifests itself. Scratch that. It’s a compulsion at this point. I have to play, and keep playing, till I have a high score that I can be satisfied with. Sigh.
So the next few weeks are going to be tough. Not only do I have a lot of work to do, but I also have to find a way to beat the game quickly enough each week that I will actually have the time to get the work done! So yeah. Egad! However, after five years in graduate school, I have a few tricks up my sleeve such as restricting my access to the internet, going to my favorite spot to work, and imagining how great the summer will be after all the work is completed. But in the meantime I still have some time, right? Enough to play just one game?
It has been almost 9 years since I have taken a math class. This semester I have enrolled in Y502 which is Intermediate Statistics. With a new year and a new semester, I have resolved that I need to have a new attitude towards quantitative research. There has been some hidden and somewhat unhidden fear about taking statistics due to the absence of math in over the past few years. However, I really need to grow in my inquiry skills and look forward to what will come of this new knowledge. The first day of class included a sort of “pre-test”, that I thought was a pop quiz. I freaked out and thought I performed horribly. Yet, I proved myself wrong and did fairly well. I know it will be challenging, but the Spring semester of 2011 will be great!