If I Knew What I Was Doing

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Meet baby sister...

Baby sister always has brilliant advice.  She is just like a real life walking, talking first grader in a twenty-something body.  Recently, I asked her what topic I should choose for my dissertation.  Most people, if they even make it to that point, spend months, maybe years constructing the perfect research question.  This usually follows years of doctoral-level coursework.  After all, it is the culminating academic work in a terminal degree program (or you know, three decades of school).  I am already nervous about this thought.  Luckily for me, baby sister is always ready to save the day.  She wasted no time solving my problem.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present the topic my little sister proposed for my Ivy League dissertation.  The one that will be submitted to the faculty of the very first graduate school of education in the United States; the university ranked fourth of all institutions of higher education ANYWHERE.  No pressure...

"How chickens cross the road and why they should cross back."

What do you think, Columbia?  Ivy material?  Somehow I feel like this would be an excellent topic to propose to Mr. Belding at Bayside High.  

(To be fair, baby sister also announced today that she really wants to get two cheetah babies and name them Cory and Topanga.  Brilliant.)

In between Snowmageddon One and Snowmageddon Two, I attended the First Year Experience conference in Atlanta.  About 1,000 higher ed people gathered to discuss ways to create the best, most educational and transformative first year of college for students across the country.  You know, for all the kids who think Saved by the Bell: The College Years is totally what it's going to be like.  This was the first time I've really discussed Columbia with people outside of my close friends and family.  Let me tell you, they listen.  To this point, all reactions to my upcoming education/Ivy League/New York experience fall into one of two categories.  I am either brilliant and ridiculously impressive, or I am insane.  Both are completely, positively, 100% correct assumptions.

While at the conference, I stopped by a session about successfully writing a dissertation.  I thought it might be helpful, and I'm an overachiever.  The facilitator described all the people just starting the doctoral process as sixth graders thinking about which college to attend after high school.  Hello!?!?!  I don't like to brag, and I don't even tell people that the school I'm attending is Ivy, but give me a little credit.  I have a long way to go.  I will need a ton of help and support along the way.  But I'm not a total idiot.  I wrote a brilliant admissions essay.  I read original works by Aristotle and Aquinas, and I very clearly demonstrated how they relate to real life and education in 2011.  I got in.  I have clearly fooled everyone (myself included) into thinking that I know what I've gotten myself into.

Just to clarify, I start coursework at Teachers College (Columbia's education school) in June.  The program is a fast-track, intensive Adult Learning and Leadership program designed to speed students through 91 credit hours in just two years...insane.  Although it is considered a full-time program, I won't actually be in New York full time (at least not yet).  For the next three summers, I'll spend three weeks each June at Teachers College/Columbia University.  I'll also be in New York for classes four weekends each semester for two academic years.  In the time between classes, I'll have homework, research, reading, etc.  Once I finish coursework, I'll spend the next year constructing/researching/writing the dissertation (all 120 pages of it).  Yikesabee.

One of the things I'm most excited about is that my doctoral program is a cohort model.  There will be 15 or so students who do all the courses together and earn degrees at roughly the same time.  A few years back, I met the greatest group of friends a girl could ask for...  

We laughed, cried, studied, researched, caffeinated, danced, traveled and prayed together.  I learned at least as much from this group of people as I did in master's classes (sorry Frank, Dub and RCC), and let them change my life a little (or a lot) in the process.  Even when I didn't know what I was doing, they were right there doing (or not doing) it with me.  I sort of wish my Baylor cohort/fellow glee club members were starting Columbia with me, but they are all off being their brilliant selves.  And I am really, really excited that a new group of students/scholars/friends will join me on this ridiculous, scary, unknown journey that lies ahead.  Until then, I'll just keep daydreaming about school supplies and scribbling brilliant dissertation topics on pink post-its.

If I knew what I was doing, I'd be doing it right now...

1 comment:

  1. I wish we could all start another program together too! So glad we have our online community to at least continue to support that way. You are going to be great you over-achiever you!