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Doctoral Journey Tips

Updated: Jan 3

The doctoral journey was not something that I ever aspired to do. My Mom actually encouraged me to pursue it. I learned a lot about myself during that time. The key lessons that I think would have helped me in the beginning include:

1.) Do not be so hard on yourself when you attend the first residency (assuming that you attend Walden). There were hundreds of students there. I thought they were so much smarter than me because they knew things that I did not. You will learn all that you need to know to be successful.

2.) Pay very close attention to the information shared during the coursework specifically the research courses. I wished that I would have done a better job of taking more notes. I am a quantitative researcher, and there was so much that I learned during the coursework that I had to become familiar with all over again. I hated the fact that I did not have notes. Since Walden mostly consisted of assignments and papers, I did not take notes like I did during my other journeys.

3.) Decide on your research interests early on. I wavered in my interest for the first year of my program. I wished that I knew more about what I wanted to study even generally. If I had, it would have made the literature review a lot easier. You can narrow down your topic and define it once you find the gap in the literature.

  • Make sure that your research study is something that you are passionate about. I have been asked to speak at different events due to my research interests. I can talk about my study to anyone at any given time.

4.) The journey is going to be challenging. One thing that my Dad told me a lot during the process when it got hard was, "If it were easy, everyone would do it." No one breezes through this journey even if they are a prodigy.

5.) Do not compare yourself to other people. Many may get done faster than you in your cohort. It does not mean that you are not being diligent. You just focus on what you have to accomplish.

6.) Set realistic goals for yourself each quarter. When you set those goals, evaluate what it takes to get there.

7.) Realize that you are going to have to make a lot of sacrifices to get phinished. Keep in mind that you want to get through the program with as few hiccups as possible.

8.) Get to know the faculty when you have the opportunity such as residencies and conferences. I was able to establish a rapport with faculty which proved to be beneficial.

9.) Remain in good standing with your committee when you get to that point. I keep the lines of communication open with my chair and committee member even today. Always respect their perspective because they know what they are doing. They are not going to set you up to fail. I acknowledged them in my first publication in a national magazine, and they were so excited. They have been nothing but supportive since I started the dissertation phase in 2016.

10.) Truly grasp APA. If it is not your strong suit, start to work on it now. It will help you so much as you begin to form your premise, prospectus, proposal, and dissertation.

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