During my career I have had many conversations with professionals who were considering pursuing a doctoral degree. What surprises me is how few of them consider going full time as an option. I am here to argue two things: 1) that more people should consider pursuing the degree full time; and 2) that many of the people who say they can’t due to circumstances (e.g., job, spouse, kids, loans) actually can do it. Here is my list of 20 reasons why you should consider pursuing a doctoral degree full time:
- You can do the program in 3-4 years, rather than the 7-9 years it may take to go part time.
- You can get someone else to pay for it (No one should do full time doc work without a graduate assistantship of some kind).
- You get really, really good at APA.
- The disruption of the career ladder can actually offer an opportunity to jump higher quicker, or dramatically change career paths.
- You get to read the stuff you have wanted to read, but currently don’t have the time.
- You are immersed in an academic experience because you are a student first (as opposed to going part time where your job is always your top priority).
- You develop a cohort of academic colleagues who can help see you through the whole journey.
- You learn to live on very little money (which really helps make your next full time gig appear to pay that much more).
- There is a great chance of developing an excellent mentoring relationship with your professors, and the person who will ultimately direct your dissertation.
- It is easier to get into most doctoral programs than into the highly reputed master’s programs (and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise!).
- You greatly enhance your critical thinking skills.
- Just as we know with undergrads—it is what happens outside the classroom that really makes for a great experience. Going full time allows you to take advantage of opportunities (research, presenting, writing) that part time students don’t often get.
- There are great opportunities to connect with and work for upper level administrators through assistantships and internships.
- You discover interests in ideas and topics you didn’t know existed.
- You have more time for friends and family (just no money for vacations and visits, unless you are Paul Brown).
- It is then easier to switch from a large school experience to a small school position.
- You enhance your writing skills.
- It is easier to see and make sense of the larger picture in student affairs and higher education when you are taking several courses each semester.
- There is a great opportunity to meet and get to know some of the big names in the field.
- If you have young kids, you are surrounded by willing babysitters, most of whom will watch your kids for nothing.
- Okay, one more. It is fun! I’m not kidding. Maybe not all the time, but fun nonetheless!
Happy New Year and best wishes with all your resolutions!
Follow me at @pglove33 and feel free to tweet doc program or job search questions at me.