Famous last words were mine when I said, “I won’t go back for my doctorate. Why would I want to spend that much time and money when I don’t have that long left to teach before I retire?”
That was eight years ago. Then the opportunity presented itself three years ago, and a friend suggested we give it a try. She had a flyer from Carson-Newman University, and the cost was very competitive to other schools in our region. The best part was that after two years of the three-year program, one could earn the educational specialist degree and receive a pay raise, while completing the final year toward the educational doctoral degree. Together we enrolled, and now, looking back, I am so thankful that I took that leap.
I chose Carson-Newman not only because the cost was competitive, but because I had originally received my bachelor’s degree from that same institution, and knew the quality of education they provided. A degree from Carson-Newman is not just accepted by local districts, it is known to be a high-quality degree.
In addition, this program was 100% online. This was wonderful, because I would be working, raising a family, and going back to school. Carson-Newman made this program easy with progressive technology, which allowed me to correspond with professors and classmates, present classwork, and take assessments and surveys in a timely manner. This online opportunity was a modern take on attending classes minus the intimidation factor for an old-school student.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to the wonderful faculty and advisors in the educational doctorate program. The professors prepared me with rigorous assignments in classes that were worthwhile and applicable to my practice. During classes, the professors were accessible, and always offered support and constructive critiques that helped me grow as a professional, as well as a student.
The guidance which was offered by my advisor was just as beneficial. Contacting her was easy, and she always responded quickly if I had to leave a message. However, the icing on the cake was the direction and support I received while completing my dissertation. The thought of completing the dissertation scared me to death until my third semester. It was then that a professor began offering ideas and assignments to help me begin to think about my dissertation topic. I felt even less scared by the time the third year rolled around. During the year of work that went in to my research and writing, my chair and committee led me through each step in a gradual process that made the work more feasible. At the end of the coursework, I had a 100+ page dissertation of which I was very proud. I also had learned a great deal through my research, and I was able to apply it to my current role as assistant principal.
Looking back on the past three years, I can honestly say that I am proud to have put forth the effort and time for this degree. It is a proud moment when someone calls me doctor, and I thank my Carson-Newman friends and the faculty in the education department for the high-quality education I received.