The Road to Ph.D: Starting from Scratch

To be quite honest, if I didn’t need it for work, I probably wouldn’t be doing this in the first place. But well, here I am, finally pulling the trigger (so to speak) and taking the first concrete steps in applying for a doctorate degree.

Sounds so pretentious, right? But I also recognize that, given the career path I’m currently on, and my personal/professional interests, this is the next logical step in following the path towards an better career in the academe. For better or worse, I’m kind of married to the job anyway, and there’s no point in switching careers at this stage in my life.

One of the things I’ve begun doing in the last few years is to keep a Microsoft Word file on my desktop with the file name “Goals.” Each year, I try to update it by crossing out what I’ve accomplished from the previous year, and add the ones I want to do for the coming year. I try to keep it to three broad goals for the year, since I don’t want to plan too much, and I want to keep track of my progress as well.

For the last two years, I’ve been moving the goal “apply for a Ph.D program” farther and farther down the line, and I think that if I keep on doing that, then nothing will get done, and I’ll be closer to 40 years old than to 30 years old (I’m comfortably in the middle right now) and I don’t want to regret anything, really. Everyone’s been super supportive – husband, family, friends, colleagues – and I think the only one really stopping me from taking the plunge is… well, me.

So here I am, studying for the GRE (which is tomorrow, gods) and my math brain is now slightly more confident than it was when I began this review process. To be fair, I know that taking the standardized tests (IELTS is on Sunday, but I’m slightly more confident with that) is only the first step and I still have more things to get together, and more requirements to gather as we go along.

But at the very least, this is a start. I have my schedules and my Excel sheet to keep all the information in one place; I have my deadlines and checklists in place. I am hoping that my brain is ready for the long slog this semester, since most of the deadlines are towards the end of the year. I’m hoping that I’m giving myself enough time to prepare for this without necessarily rushing through things. And I’m hoping that this is the right decision. I haven’t done this in a long time. I hope that the universe is kind.

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