Monday, May 2, 2016

Grad School: I'm Headed to Fairbanks

Time for a brief grad school update.

I have submitted my final papers for this semester, and I have achieved a landmark: I am finished with my coursework!

This semester I was taking a research elective (Design-Based Research, which was absolutely fascinating and helpful for my current and future research agenda) and conducting an "innovative experience" (basically an internship intended to help me synthesize the things I've learned in my coursework and begin applying it to a real-world problem in a way that "stretches" me.) Both were excellent learning adventures, but I feel drained--I am definitely at "the end" of this semester, limping my way to the finish line. I think it is because I kicked off this semester with comprehensive exams, which meant a ton of extra reading and preparation during Christmas break (normally a respite from the hectic, 60-hour+ per week schedule of the semester.) Honestly, I am tired...really, really tired.

But despite this fatigue, I feel great, submitting those last papers from this semester!

For my innovative experience, my final paper was a reflection on the things I had done and learned, and when I submitted it to my advisor and our program director, I shared my joy at reaching this point.

In response, one of my professors encouraged me to think of it this way:
The drive from NYC to Seattle is about 2,800 miles. To get to Fairbanks, AK, it's another 2,300 miles. When you've completed coursework for the program ... you're in Seattle. But ... you need to get to Fairbanks. ;-)

Truly, I'm grateful for this encouragement. I have said to a few people that I am now "ABD" (All But Dissertation.) One fellow academic commented to me that I should never say that; ABD is often used to indicate folks who got to this point where I find myself...and then stall out, not completing the degree.

I needed that encouragement too. I am NOT going to end up at "ABD" status. I'm proud of the work I've completed so far, and by the grace of God I'll see this journey through to the end. It's been quite a trip so far; I've enjoyed it thoroughly, but I am not at the end.

So I'm taking a rest stop in Seattle for a few days here...but I'm headed to Fairbanks.

Image by J. Stephen Conn [CC BY-SA 2.0]


  1. Congratulations Dave! Enjoy your time in "Seattle"! (Oh, and good advice from your colleague re: ABD. I have a professional acquaintance who carried ABD on her signature block for a number of years. My reaction was similar to that of your colleague. My acquaintance did eventually defend her dissertation and replace the ABD with PhD, but I always thought that the ABD "credential" was a little strange.)

    1. Thank you, my friend! This brief respite will be just what I need--I'm going to start writing a proposal for my dissertation soon... :-)

  2. Seattle is nice this time of year. Congratulations Dave!