Needs of New Professionals considering a Higher Education Doctoral degree

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1 Needs of New Professionals considering a Higher Education Doctoral degree Deciding when to enroll in a higher education doctoral degree program can be a difficult choice for new student affairs professionals. Aspiring practitioners must make decisions about entering a graduate program with little work experience, choosing between an EdD or PhD degree, or enrolling in coursework with a traditional or cohort delivery style. Attendees will discuss study findings that explored the academic experience among new practitioners as they navigated specific needs, built relationships with other students, and garnered support networks. Framework: Graduate Student Socialization Graduate students progress through three socialization stages during the academic process: entry, integration, and candidacy (Gardner, 2007). Hallmarks of these stages include: Entry: application/admissions process, induction to the program/ school, new student orientation, introductory classes; Integration: core coursework, electives, advising, independent and collaborative research projects, conference presentations; Candidacy: dissertation process, independent and collaborative research, transition to the career world. Real student learning occurs as students cycle between stages of ambiguity, discovery, and enlightenment. Students develop deeper understandings of the situation as a result of the process and support from the program. 1 Rick Jakeman Assistant Professor, HEA The George Washington University Rick completed the EdD cohort-based program at the University of Arkansas in Former positions include both administrative and academic roles at Drury University, including seven years as a student affairs practitioner. His research interests include graduate student socialization and graduate program climate.

2 Choices: The big decision to apply to doctoral education New professionals with doctoral degree aspirations have many choices to make, some include: On one hand and on the other hand Other choices? 2 EdD Traditional Delivery Style Significant Work Experience Significant Personal Relationships Fast Curriculum Close to Home Financing the Experience PhD Cohort or Executive Delivery Style Very Little Work Experience Single and Alone Slow Curriculum Relocating /Significant Traveling Poor and broke The Study: What are the needs of doctoral students? To learn more about these experiences, I completed a study in 2007 examining three areas of graduate student socialization. Specific Needs of New Professionals/Young Doc Students Relationships of New Professionals/Young Doc Students Support Networks for New Professionals/Young Doc Students Say what? Let s define the terms for the purposes of this discussion PhD vs EdD: Traditional Delivery: Traditionally, the PhD was the research degree while the EdD served as an administrator s degree. In recent years the changing needs of the field, competition for students, and accreditation measures have pushed the two degree types to be similar. Many EdD programs require the same number of educational research methods courses as well as hold students to the same standards for dissertation quality. Traditional delivery methods engage students in face-to-face or blended courses that are seated on a weekly basis during the normal semester/quarter structures. Students will be full-time and part-time, with many options for graduate research assistantships or teaching opportunities. Alternative Delivery (cohort and executive): Alternative delivery methods vary in nature but can range from seated cohort program which offer an intensive course scheduling format (generally over a weekend) to executive /accelerated programs that condense the curriculum to fewer years or cater to specific student needs or interests.

3 Needs of New Professionals/Young Doctoral Students The following points highlight specific needs of new professionals in doctoral programs. 3 Vocational Focus on Education The vocational focus was derived from needing the degree to open doors of opportunity for careers and future research. Addicted to Education Students were addicted to education and valued life-long learning. Fast-track the Program Students sought out many ways in which to decrease the amount of time required by the program. Academic Inadequacy at the Onset Students felt academically underprepared for their respective programs in the beginning stages of the process. Seven of 10 wanted to drop out of the program at some point. Hidden Identity (Age Changed their Behavior) Students described age or outward appearance as something they should modify or conceal from classmates and faculty. Appearance and behavior was a major point of discussion. Behavior: Dress older, act more professional, refrain from certain types of behavior in social environments. Relationships: Friends, dating, and work relationships Preference for PhD Program Participants preferred the PhD program over the EdD program. On Age/Appearance, I was the director of new student programs and I look like I am 12 [years old]. My job is dealing with parents... I conducted a session called parenting your student through the college years, and they looked at me like. what does this 12 year old know about how to parent my student during their college years? On Hidden Identity of young students, I took a class last spring... And in that class, my birthday fell right at the beginning of the class, so I brought in a cake for my birthday to celebrate it. Someone asked, how old are you? And I m like, I just turned 26. He was the 40-year-old in the class. [At that point], we both realized, Wow, I really am the youngest person in this program right now. That s ridiculous. I can t believe that I m that much younger than you guys. In a way it made me feel inadequate around them, but I also thought, look at what I m doing 14 years before you did. About three weeks ago I was in the student lounge of the program [talking about classes with a] third year doctoral student, who was probably in his early 30s. And he said something to me and we weren t even talking about age. He said, Are you even 25 yet? And no one has ever called me out, a couple of guys have asked. I ve always avoided it. I ve never explicitly stated my age. I think to this day some people think I m probably late 20s just because it s the impression that I try to give off and want to give off. And I said, no, because I felt like he uncovered some kind of secret. That bothered me, but that s also sort of representative of some of the competition or some of the sort of sneakiness that can go on where people are trying to find out how old I am or trying to sort of catch someone off guard and get some information.

4 Relationships of New Professionals/Young Doctoral Students The following points highlight viewpoints of the importance of relationships among new professionals in doctoral programs. 4 Importance of Building Relationships Students believed the process of building and maintaining relationships with peers and faculty members was important to their success. Relationships were important due the interdependency of higher education programs. Relationships were formed as a method to freely express ideas with colleagues. Worried about Personal Relationships Students were concerned about their ability to be in long-term personal relationships. Unstable Relationships between Younger and Older Students In the classroom: Participants reported a perception of unstable relationships between groups of students due to differing time commitments, ability to meet for group work, and competition. Outside of the classroom: Relationships out of the classroom suffered from differing interests, commitments, the need to spend time with families, and lifestyle preferences. Working Students Students reported a perceived difference among the younger students with work experience and those without work experience. Students who had significant work experience benefited from this responsibility. Students without significant work experience felt they were viewed negatively due to their lack of experience. On relationships, I had no restrictions as far as having to worry about coming home and take care of the kid, and a wife, or even a girlfriend. It was just a situation where I could really focus on getting what I needed to get done accomplished. I do not have house plants, I do not have pets - - nothing. I am alone. I don't know how else to do it. On disconnected relationships with older students, I saw her in the hallway and she said, what are you doing here? I said, I am defending my qualifying exams. She looked me straight in eye and said, Sally pooped on the potty today. And, I had this moment of disconnect. We skipped small talk and she went straight to that. So, even though we had a working relationship for a number of years, I felt infinitely younger and disconnected from her. On being silenced in class because of age, There was one situation where I can remember [when I was] sharing my thoughts on a particular subject and there was another student that, for the most part, pretty much, said, well, I've been doing this for 10 plus years, or whatever the case maybe, so I don't agree with [you], that I don't think it's right. On importance of working full-time, There are students in our program who don t work full-time. I think you need to grow up and get a real job. [I question] why are you going into debt for this if you don t have to? My financial position when I graduated undergraduate would not have allowed me to go full-time without also working.

5 Support Networks of New Professionals/Young Doctoral Students The following points highlight the support networks of new professionals in doctoral programs. 5 Academic Inadequacy at the Onset Students felt academically underprepared for their respective programs at the beginning. Seven of 10 wanted to drop out of the program at some point. Acceptance of Lower Expectations of Faculty members Students admitted they expected faculty members to be unresponsive, self-interested, and busy with their own research agendas. Family and friends were Support Networks Students depended on family and friends for much needed support, care, and motivation. Mentoring Students appreciated the idea of mentoring but few noted indepth participation in a mentoring relationship. On academic preparedness, I felt like I was already behind when the race started in my doctoral program and now I m just getting further and further behind. Our program tries to put you on the dissertation process from step 1. So all your classes that you taking are essentially focused on what you eventually want to write about.... And I wasn t ready for that and so like my first class was all about [determining] what you are writing your dissertation on. I [thought], I have no idea. On expectations of faculty, They said to us up front, it is a well-ranked program and part of that is because they [the faculty members] do a lot of research. That means they are busy, so if we want to be on a research project with them then we need to seek them out. On expectations of faculty, The faculty [members] are on their own planets. I think they would tell you this too. I don't think they know what each other is doing, completely. They are just working on their own things. That is a very isolated way to approach higher education. On support networks, I have my mom, my aunt, and my sisters there to encourage me and to say, you can do it. Go take a break. Take a moment to exhale. That helps me, that refuels me for those days when I am just so tired and exhausted. It was always helped me to feel good knowing that I have this support group who is there encouraging me, and they are pushing me to go on.

6 Needs of New Professionals considering a doctoral degree Based on the experiences of the participants in the study, we can learn the following things: 6 Age or appearance changed behavior among younger students. Should it? Timing for the doctoral program has to be right (personal relationships/children, career, expectations). Students must investigate student fit within the program. Do your values match that of the current program? Support networks are important and needed for success. Mentoring? The presence of a master plan and/or having pure determination was beneficial. Plan for bumps in the road. New professionals/young students should be warned of burn out (focus on creating sustainable behaviors) Students should seek out socializing agents and work proactively with them. Framework: Graduate Student Socialization Graduate students progress through three socialization stages during the academic process: entry, integration, and candidacy (Gardner, 2007). Real student learning occurs as students cycle between stages of ambiguity, discovery, and enlightenment Who are the socializing agents? Faculty members Academic advisor Current students in the program Mentor Others? Comments How do students work with various socializing agents? How do I avoid the ambiguity phase?

7 Continuing the Learning: References to further explore the topic Use these references as you continue your work with this topic. Socialization Anderson, M. S. (Ed.). (1998). The experience of being in graduate school: An exploration. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Austin, A. E. (2002, Jan-Feb). Preparing the next generation of faculty: Graduate school as socialization to the academic career. The Journal of Higher Education, 73(1), Gardner, S. K. (2008, March). Filling the mold in graduate school: A qualitative study of socialization in doctoral education. Innovative Higher Education, 33, Gardner, S. K. (2007). I heard it through the grapevine : doctoral student socialization in chemistry and history. Higher Education, 54, doi: /s x. Golde, C. M. (1997, November). Gaps in the training of future faculty: Doctoral student perceptions. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, Albuquerque, NM. Golde, C. M. (2000, Winter). Should I stay or should I go? Student descriptions of the doctoral attrition process. The Review of Higher Education, 23(2), EdD versus PhD Courtenay, B. C. (1988). Eliminating the confusion over the EdD and PhD in colleges and schools of education. Innovative Higher Education, 13(1), Dill, D. D., & Morrison, J. L. (1985). Ed.D. and Ph.D. research training in the field of higher education: A survey and a proposal. The Review of Higher Education, 8(2), Support Networks/Relationships Mason, M. A. (2009, October 21). Why so few doctoral-student parents. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 12(52), 1. Johnson-Bailey, J., Valentine, T. S., Cervero, R. M., & Bowles, T. A. (2008, Fall). Lean on me: The support experiences of Black graduate students. The Journal of Negro Education, 77(4), Higher Education as a Field of Study Roaden, A. L., & Larimore, D. (1973). The scholar-practitioner paradox, revisited in higher education. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 6, Townsend, B. K. (1990). Doctoral study in the field of higher education. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, 6, Townsend, B. K. (1995). Is there a hidden curriculum in higher education doctoral programs? Paper presented in symposium Changing the Curriculum in Higher Education programs, ASHE Annual Conference, November 1993, Pittsburgh, PA.

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