My life has typically revolved around an academic calendar. As another school year is coming to a close, I reflected on my educational journey that pretty much ended in 2102 unless you count the four semesters of Mandarin Chinese I took in community college recently.
So I don’t really talk about my educational accomplishments mostly because I blocked it out of my memory. Talk about PTSD. I essentially went to school for 10 years to become a doctor and not even a medical one. I’ve had a lot of doctor’s visit recently and each one has been about 10 seconds and I’m sure I my insurance was charged $550 on top of my $20 co-pay. Not to mention, I was the one that had to disrobe. For the amount of schooling I did, I mine as well have gone on to become a medical doctor…I’m sure as hell not making $560 every 10 seconds! Then again, science was never my thing, so I’m sure I would not have been that great of a doctor or med student in general or maybe even biology major.
My journey to a doctorate began in 2006 when I started to pursue my master’s degree. I was working at an college in New York at the time and one of the perks in working at a college is that you can pretty much get a free master’s degree as long as it’s related to your professional development. So, higher education was the field of choice. Now I know when I tell people I study higher education, they think it’s so I can teach at a college. That’s not it. You can teach at a college with any degree you want as long as you have a doctorate in said discipline. The study of higher education is different. This degree focuses on leadership, organizational theory, and student development theory so you can examine higher education as an institution. Bored yet? Basically, you examine why certain ethnic groups tend to have lower success rates in graduation and what the factors are that influence it. Or you look at why taking NYU and putting it in the Middle East doesn’t work. Or you can look at female leadership roles in large public institutions or lack there of. It’s basically interdisciplinary. Obviously, it’s deeper than the way I said it, but you get the point. So in 2008 after finishing and realizing I was at a dead end job, I hopped on a plane to LAX to pursue my doctorate. I only applied to schools in SoCal mostly because I always wondered what it would be like to live in LA. I entertained Columbia, but they didn’t entertain me. Sadness. Actually, hindsight is only 20/20, they pretty much did me a favor because life is so much grander now albeit much more plastic. I feel as though in the process I earned a Ph.D. in being fake and bitchy and Regina George was my dissertation chair.
I know I’m supposed to write about how amazing my experience was in my program, but to be honest, I was bored to tears my first year. I often heard or read blogs from my classmates on how great is was that they took core classes that were heavily focused on K-12 education and how amazing it was that they could relate it to their careers or research field of choice. Clearly, I was not one of these students. What was so fun about reading and discussing “No Child Left Behind”? I went to public school and I kind of excelled without even trying, no thanks to the disruption of certain classmates, so sometimes, I do think some children need to be left behind…but that’s a different story.
Then there were summer classes. They were six weeks long, but they were also 6 hours long. We were in class from 4-10pm which I thought was totally contradictory to educational learning pedagogy. They were also in the driest classes possible. I believe it was something statistics-like. Dying was probably the better option during those two summers where I took those four summer classes.
Not all of it was bad though, I really did like the higher ed courses, it was the core education classes that I had beef with. I was also very fond of my dissertation chair. She was great even though not many people seemed to fond of her. I think this was due to the fact that people didn’t really want to work hard and she demanded hard work and perfection. One time in class when she was giving a lecture, she scolded one of my classmates for texting in class and he was so furious about it during break. I thought what was this world coming to if someone gets yelled at in class for texting and blames the professor for it!?! Like she had no right to tell you to stop? Hell, I was going to say something about it if she didn’t. I’m not going to lie. I had a lot of knucklehead classmates where I was left wondering “what depressing shit did you mention in one of your three statement of purposes that got you in the program?” Or “who the hell wrote your recommendations?”
So in March of 2012 after re-writing what seemed like 6 versions of each chapter (there were five total), my dissertation was ready for defense. So why PTSD? You can’t even begin to understand the torture, the writing, the time spent researching, interviewing, analyzing data, the lost social life, and the tears that I cried. I’ve had so many melt downs, you’ll be surprised I’m not a walking billboard for prozac right now. This one time, I was sitting on my bed just reading over a chapter that needed revising and I just started crying out of nowhere. I’m not even sure I was that sad to begin with. I often ask myself this question and other people ask me as well if I had the chance to do it again would I? The answer is “NO.”