I haven’t written for this blog in almost a month. The reason is simple. I have not been able to bridge the gap between thoughts and comments on primarily current events in higher education and academic research.
Several years ago, I heard about a doctorate program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education that was designed for people who were employed full-time in higher education. The doctorate was in higher education management. With an ongoing interest in learning (what else is lifelong learning), I engaged in a dialogue with the Board of Trustees of the American Public University System (APUS) and the Board of Directors of American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) about the merits of enrolling in this program if I were accepted. Both of the boards were supportive of my interest. The primary question was related to timing. I applied and was accepted. There were several doctoral programs around the country designed for people working full-time, but the program at UPenn was the one that I wanted to attend.
I started the program in August 2008, a member of a cohort of 22. Part of the uniqueness of the program is that we had to submit five suggestions for dissertation topics at the start of our program. As the months progressed, we tackled courses with subjects like Qualitative Methods, Public Policy in Higher Education, Quantitative Methods, Institutional Governance in Higher Education, Strategic Management in Higher Education, History of Higher Education, Community Colleges, International Higher Education, Enrollment Management, and Small Colleges. At the same time, we continued to progress toward our development of a topic and ultimately a proposal for our dissertations.
I successfully defended my dissertation proposal in May. Courses have continued through the fall and will conclude in February. Meanwhile, the chapters of my dissertation continue to take shape, along with data collection and analysis. As those who have gone through this process know, the last few months are the most intense, requiring a lot of writing and rewriting. Mixing a more casual style of writing into my more structured research writing has been more difficult than I had imagined.
I am not sure how often I will submit articles for the blog. I may find a guest author or two. I might even post a few videos of professors and students at APUS; a project that we have been developing over the past few months.
Meanwhile, I can relate to the challenges of going back to school for a degree when you have a full-time job and a family. My family has been very supportive and I thank them. I look forward to being able to spend more time with them, but the most important activity in my spare time will be finishing this dissertation and defending it successfully, sometime this spring. The opportunity to do this has been wonderful. I have enjoyed the program, the faculty, and my cohort classmates. I think I know how an American Military University (AMU) or American Public University (APU) student feels when the finish line is in sight.