When I enrolled to earn my Ed.D in Leadership, (I chose American College of Education,) I was really surprised at the number of people who had something to say. “A doctorate? What will you ever do with that?” For me, this is an avenue to keep my career options open and that’s the best part.
There are so many reasons why pursuing an advanced degree is the right move for a career. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have my doubts early on. I’m a full-time special education teacher. I also work on my family’s farm, volunteer, and raise two tiny humans. Even after my acceptance, I still found myself asking, “How am I going to do this?” But the truth is we all have competing obligations and it’s all too easy to come up with reasons not to pursue our dreams. So let’s upend the myths you may have been told or told yourself about the journey through academia.
I don’t have time: MYTH
Friend, no matter how you slice it, there are 24 hours in a day. I like to tell people that this past year I’ve learned that you aren’t too busy, you just need to work on your time management. My husband and I use a shared calendar app that allows us to keep up with each other as well as our kids’ plans. When an event is added or approaching, it sends text reminders so we all know what is happening.
Get a hotspot and a tablet and keep them with you. Having those allows you to work from anywhere! I’ve read journal articles during dentist visits and I once wrote a concept paper in a pig barn at a local fair while waiting for our turn to exhibit.
My kids will make it hard to keep up: MYTH
As long as you schedule your time and plan ahead, keeping up with your program won’t be an issue. Try to find a program with a predictable course schedule because this will make it easy for you to get into a routine week after week, term after term. You’ll find that you’ll have time for everything – work, kids, and coursework.
Also, don’t forget that your kids are watching you and they will emulate what you do. Having my daughter announce that she and momma have some schoolwork to do and being able to learn with her by my side has been my favorite part of the journey so far!
This probably won’t apply to my work: MYTH
I’m a special education teacher so the skills and strategies that go into developing individualized education plans and differentiating instruction is a niche market for sure. If you’ve ever sat through professional development and cringed as you realized it had no applicability to your day-to-day, I feel for you!
This is not like that. My teaching is transforming every day! I am changing, meeting new people, learning new things, and bringing incredible new opportunities to my students.
My favorite takeaway so far has been working with food and nutrition. Now, my students grow their own lettuce for our school cafeteria. It was the first step in my doctoral research journey, and now, once a week, 750 kids get the chance to eat fresh produce that was grown seven feet from the cafeteria. That’s some impact there!
I’m not going to promise that this will be easy. I’m not going to promise that you won’t consume lots of coffee and sometimes forget to brush your hair. (If you’re like me, that was happening before college anyway.) If you’ve been waiting for a sign, a vision, a message—this is it! You can make higher education a reality in your life and work and raise a family and volunteer and still enjoy the adventures that life brings you. You just have to take that first step.
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