Doctoral Degree?

I am completely undecided about something. Indecision isn’t common for me. If you’ve got a thought on this one, could you please consider helping me out with a comment or two?  Here’s the decision:

I’ve been seriously considering starting my doctoral work for almost a year. Where to do the work? I’ve researched a couple of options nearby and a few on-line opportunities. What? I’ve done some extensive research on the difference between PhD programs and the EdD programs. I think I’ve narrowed down the where, when and what of the decision. What I’m stuck on is the why and to what end?

The cost of the doctoral degree is significant. I’m looking at $38,000 to $70,000, depending upon the detail of the decision. Even given the lower number of $38,000, I won’t recoup that in career advancement. I’m in exactly the career and the district that I want to be in so I’m not looking to do this as a way to improve my employability and I don’t need it for certification or licensure.

Why am I considering it? A couple of reasons. It’s the next goal for me, the next thing to achieve and as a life long “climber”, I’m always looking for my next challenge. I also think that starting my doctoral degree will help me to remain in Randolph–that it will give me that challenge that I always seem to need, without moving to a larger, tougher, different district to get it. I love the idea of completing my degree via an on-line university so that I could experience on line learning first hand and better understand it. I also wonder if it will afford me a structure for my thinking as I work to accomplish another goal of writing that first book. I’m excited by the idea of the coursework, I love researching, analyzing and writing.

Why do I hesitate? That’s a huge chunk of change for something that’s not really going to take me anywhere in my career. I know, I know, it might some day, you never know where life will take you–but it might not. I’ve worked hard every step of the way, on my own, to accomplish what I have–and education has been one key component that opened those doors. But now I’m here, can’t I just be satisfied with where I am? What return will I get on this investment? Is it worth it?

  1. Secretly I’d be very proud of you. Publicly I’d giggle and call you Dr. Kimmie.
    Go for it. If there’s a chance it’ll make you a better leader or a better person it’s worth the cost.

  2. Kim,
    I struggled with this, too, and I also wrote a post about it on the old version of LeaderTalk:

    I received some really good comments there, including one from you!!!

    So now, I am finishing year one of the Ed.D. classwork, and so far it has actually been enjoyable because the topics of the classes have been applicable to my job as a principal. Sure, there has been a lot of work, but my kids are older now, so I have been able to handle it. I’m scared about the dissertation part, but I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

    I would recommend it for you, especially if you can get yourself into some kind of cohort program where you stay with the same group all the way through. That is what I am in, and I love that aspect of it. I am not sure if you will get that taking an online doctoral program.
    I say: Go for it!

  3. Thank you to everyone for the feedback. It’s interesting to see how many of you have thought about the same things. I think my hesitancy is a sign that it’s not quite the right path for me. I’m now researching the Communities for Learning Fellowship Program that Theresa mentioned and I think it may be more aligned to my goals. Here’s what I know I want and it looks like Giselle Martin-Kniep’s fellowship program will give me the structure within which to work on all of this:
    1. My thinking pushed and a new challenge; 2. Something that keeps me so mentally stimulated that I can remain at Randolph and TRULY help to transform public education here;3. Work within a community of learners where I’m pushed and given strong feedback that helps me to learn and grow; 4. learning that improves my writing; 5. A structure/framework that helps me to figure out my strengths and a direction/an angle that’s fresh and meaningful so that I can write, write, write for publication.

    I’m excited because I think that I can direct my own learning through this program in ways that I wouldn’t get from the doctoral work. And the very best part is finding the connection to my work–I understand that everything we do in the Communities for Learning must be in service to our organization. Perfect.

  4. I’d like to get an Ed.D or Ph.D myself. There is a rumor that St. Bonaventure might offer one in the next year or two. D’Youville College has an Ed.D program too. UB is a possibility also. I want to get one that is targeted at learning and technology primarily. I hope you will post what you find. I did look into Nova and Walden at one point too.

  5. I have thought about the same thing for a few years and reached some similar conclusions. But each time I watch a friend struggle with the mountain of work to complete in their program, I can’t help but think about how finite the process is. When it is all said and done – there is a paper and letters after your name. But then it is on to find another challenge.
    I know also that a doctorate might help me to get a different position (like teaching at the college level) or looked at by a district that might not look at me otherwise – but then I ask myself if that is really where I want to me.
    My intellectual challenges are met with my participation in a true learning community. As I have evolved as a learner and leader – the community has provided me critical feedback, tremendous resources and wonderful mentors. I can mark all the changes I have made in my practice to a moment in that community.
    Good luck in your decision making and know that you can always join the learning community with me!

  6. Tough decision. Weight it carefully. I started two years ago. Finished all course work. Now I have the dissertaion and it is like a huge boulder over my head. Very tough to balance life and doctorate. I will get it done eventually. In the end it will open more doors for you. Good luck!

  7. The way things are proceeding, I believe that we’ll have a wholly-online doctorate in School Technology Leadership up and running at my new institution, the University of Kentucky, no later than Fall 2012. Want to wait for us? 😉

  8. Kimberly,
    I struggle with this same decision also. I hesitate because of the cost and that my children are toddlers and are only young once. I also do not know how I could accomplish all the work.
    My reasons for pursuing it would be get experience in research and to be able to understand research methods. But do I need to get my doctorate to understand that? Wasn’t the orignal purpose of the doctorate to be able to teach at the college level? Now is seems that is a very difficult field to get into because a lot of educators want to take that next step. Teaching at the college level in the evenings would help to offset the loan I would have to get to take the classes.
    I also have experience with people who have their doctorate that doesn’t make them “smarter” or better at what they do.
    Can’t wait to hear what you decide and why:)

  9. If you have the ability (time, money, desire, and ambition) to continue to educate yourself, I would. Education is priceless and I have always told my children that you should never stop attempting to learn all that you can. My daughter enjoys learning just for the sake of finding out new things, exploring new ideas, and experiencing things that she may otherwise have missed without that educational adventure that she so adores. To borrow an often used phrase in my household “Knowledge is power.” What you learn anywhere in life is merely a “tool” for the “tool box” we all haul around with us. What you learn today may not be used for years or at all…but it’s there.

    My daughter carries that passion for education, as I do. While heading for college and picking an actual direction just about killed her (she wanted to take a little of everything!!) I think that desire will never die in her heart or soul. You seem like you love the adventure of learning as much as she does….I say go for it!! As I always ask her…”Will you regret it if you don’t??” If there’s even a slight chance of a yes then don’t miss the opportunity because regret lives within your heart forever.

    Just my 2 cents…

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