Guest Author - Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger
The decision to pursue a PhD does not come casually. The time invested in obtaining a PhD is usually twice as long as acquiring a bachelorís degree, and the cost associated with it can set you back a few years if you do not qualify for financial aid, work for a company that offers a tuition reimbursement package, or have another means to pay tuition. Nevertheless, many millennials are finding themselves on the path toward attaining a PhD. One of my motivators was realizing how this long-term commitment could enrich my future. My first concern was age. I asked myself, ďAm I too old to pursue a PhD?Ē However, my philosophy of life is this: Take each day as it comes. Of course, having goals is important, but you still need to find pleasure in each day. That philosophy can be applied to your PhD journey as well if you have a passion for your area of research. The PhD journey will simply become part of your daily life, a challenging yet rewarding journey each step of the way.
Nevertheless, as in any other degree program, there may be PhD coursework that simply does not interest you. The advantage of a PhD over other degree options is that you can incorporate your area of research within assignments in less desirable courses. Essentially, each course provides you with an opportunity to conduct further research in your area of interest in some capacity.
I have had an extensive career at the Boeing Company, and the organization I support places a lot of value on higher education. I happen to have a passion for certain areas within the information technology field which is a part of my daily work life, so pursuing a PhD in information technology seemed like the next logical step. Opportunities are simply more available if you have a PhD degree to edge you past your competition.
While studies show an average 50 percent completion rate for students pursuing a PhD, those who are successful tend to have strengths in perseverance and both oral and written communication. If your writing skills are weak, take a series of writing courses prior to beginning your PhD journey. Most universities offering a PhD program also provide prerequisite writing courses that will improve your skills. Make no mistake; researching and writing will be the majority of the work involved in achieving a PhD.
Many universities offer online courses, online degree programs, and online graduate degree programs. Online PhD programs can be quite challenging, especially when the dissertation phase of the program begins. The majority of online PhD programs require participation in a one-to-two-week on-site residency or colloquium, which is a great way to meet your fellow students and professors. These residencies are long days filled with workshops, assignments, presentations, and peer-review opportunities. Take advantage of these meetings to compare your PhD journey with those of other students and seek guidance from professors. Coursework is usually required prior to attending, and you will be expected to make several presentations regarding your area of study, so be prepared. By the end of the residency, you will be exhausted, but you will walk away with a wealth of information and future contacts to help you along the way.
Online PhD Programs are tough, but they offer convenience to students who also work full time. If you decide to pursue a PhD and are planning to use financial aid, verify that the school meets the federal financial aid requirements or is one of the schools preferred by your companyís tuition reimbursement program. Most importantly, make sure you have a desire to learn more about your research topic. Thatís right; passion for an area of study will be the fuel that drives you down that PhD road. Understanding this will not only create motivation but also make the journey much more enjoyable.
Follow Patricia on Twitter or learn more about her books at www.PatriciaPedrazaNafziger.com.