As many of you know, I started my Ph.D. program last September, and after many long nights, late hours, and reading lots of great books, I’m officially finished my first year! I thought I would take the time to reflect a little on my journey and share a few thoughts with you:
If you are thinking of applying to grad school – do it! I got accepted to the Ph.D. program at York on my second try, and I’m really glad I stayed persistent! I think what I am trying to say is that if you are already thinking about it, then make sure you follow your interest and don’t be afraid to ‘fail’ once or twice! That really is where the learning happens. My application was infinitely stronger and focused the second time around, so again, don’t be afraid of rejection.
1. The conversations you will have with your peers are going to be some of the best! One of my favourite things about going back to school was making new friends and all of the amazing ‘thinking out loud’ conversations that we have, and continue to have. I think that one of the things I’ve learned after this first year is just how important it is to surround yourself with people who are positive, challenge your thinking, and are interested in learning together. It makes all the difference.
2. It will feel uncomfortable to be outside of your comfort zone. At first read, this makes total sense, but it’s a different feeling altogether, and you have to push through. This first year, I am learning how to become a better academic writer and thinker. My work takes me a long time (as it should) and I feel like sometimes I am reading things that are a bit over my head. But that just means, more reading and thinking!
3. Find people (professors, writers, scholars) that inspire you. It is magic. I came across an author this year who’s work I fell in love with. I won’t mention the author here, but what I really want to highlight is how important it is to be inspired by the ideas and works of others. Finding literature and ideas that resonate with you is key to pushing through during the hard times.
4. Remember the ‘why’. When I first got accepted into the program, I had lots of people ask me why I was going back to school. What was the ‘plan’? And while I don’t have all of the answers right now, a lot of my why is because of the following: I want to challenge myself. I missed having conversations about ‘deeper’ issues in education with my peers, I want to make a difference. So remember the why.
I have two short weeks before I begin my summer courses, and honestly, I am really excited! Maybe I will change my mind once I’m up to my eyes in readings again, but for now, I hope that this blog post has inspired you in some way to create your own community of educators/learners to think with!