What to do with a PhD in Higher Education, Management and Policy

13 Feb

“One of the things I’m most proud of about my career is the fact I’ve managed to keep options open.”~ Clive Owen.

Shortly after graduating in May 2013, I decided to continue with my studies and applied to a PhD. in Higher Education, Management, and Policy program at Seton Hall University. If you have read my posts on GRE’s you’ll know the stress that I’ve been going through.

Good news arrived at the beginning of December, when I found an acceptance letter from Seton Hall in my mailbox.

So. I am now on my way to a PhD in Higher Education, Management, and Policy. These questions are buzzing in my head:

1)     Why do I want to do it?

2)    Is it worth it?

3)     What am I going to do with it afterwards?

4)     Will it add value to my life?

5)     Will it provide employment flexibility and marketability?

 The burning question, however, is whether it will provide career opportunities.

 After weighing carefully in what direction I’d like to go, I have narrowed down three options available for my career path.

Over the course of my graduate coursework, I thoroughly examined the levels of burnout of female teachers in a special education alternative school in rural New Jersey. I have found out that the data was organized around four major themes: (a) emotional demands, (b) lack of administrative support, (c) negative and toxic school culture, and (d) role ambiguity. I also compared this data to levels of teacher burnout in Denmark, Finland, and Australia. In addition, I have continued, on my own, to accumulate various data regarding teacher burnout, hoping in the near future to come back to investigating this aspect of teachers’ professional lives.

During my time in the program, I could fully extend the topic of professional burnout and examine it in other possible areas: vocational schools, higher education institutions, community colleges, in the United States and abroad. I could further investigate the causes of teacher stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction, compare these causes to those of teachers in other parts of the world, and analyze its effects on students. I could then come up with manageable strategies to reduce professional burnout that could continuously be incorporated into everyday life of an academic institution.

Secondly, I am quite inspirited by higher education administration and leadership. I have thoroughly enjoyed my Master’s degree courses in Leadership, Management, and Policy from Seton Hall University. Public, private and community colleges are in need of reflective, creative, and proactive leaders. Higher education institutions are in need of leaders that will foresee the challenges higher education currently faces and create solutions; leaders that will build outstanding teams and nurture collaboration between all stakeholders; leaders that will promote and enhance an institution’s vision and mission.

Lastly, I have an interest in K-12 education policy. This year is my seventh year teaching in a public school. Over the last seven years, I have had the opportunity to observe major changes in K-12 education that are affecting both students and teachers. Government programs like Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind, mandatory Student Growth Objectives, Common Core Standards, and new teacher evaluation system – all those concepts have both avid supporters and opponents. This is a time of change for public education and program evaluation and assessment are critical. I am open to opportunities to analyze student achievement data, reevaluate the effectiveness of some school programs, and come up with creative solutions on a policy level that will benefit our children.

Similarly, I will consider being involved with an international aspect of higher and K-12 education. Conducting research in comparative international education is a growing trend at the moment. Working with international organizations like The World Bank, International Schools Services, Early Education for Every Child Foundation present truly remarkable opportunities to have a meaningful career AND make a difference in the field.

One thing is obvious. I have a GRAND interest in the following three areas: institutional research, education leadership and administration, and education policy.

To Answer the questions I have posed for myself above:

1)     Why do I want to do it? – To continue learning, to continue improving myself, to make a difference in education field, one way or the other.

2)    Is it worth it? – Absolutely.

3)     What am I going to do with it afterwards? – See above 

4)     Will it add value to my life? – You bet ya!

5)     Will it provide employment flexibility and marketability? – Absolutely.

I am delighted to start the journey toward my doctoral degree, and I am aware that it may be a thorny road, full of both victories and challenges. It is indisputable that the field of higher education is growing thus presenting us with tons of career possibilities. 

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