More pages read than in War and Peace

This weekend kicked off the beginning of year 2 of my doctoral program. Along with 13 of my cohort members, we headed to class for 2 1/2 days of our first residency of the year. As I prepared for the weekend, I reflected on our journey during the first year. The twists and turns, the expectations exceeded, and the surprises. I thought, “wow, I should share this journey” for our group as we move to the completion of our program and also, for the many people around me who are supporting this endeavor. When I’m done, I will owe many in my life enormous thanks, a few apologies, and a return on the investment to them for the many sacrifices made over three years. Thus, the origin of my blog, “drive to the DBA.”

There are many places to begin, but, I think I will start with some context. As I write this, I will have just turned 47 years old and am the mother of twin, 4-year old sons. I have a full-time faculty position at North Park University in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management. I also run a consulting firm focused on career advancement.

Gosh, it sure makes sense to add ONE more thing to my list of commitments! As I began year 2, I think it was important to remind myself why I began this journey in the first place. This might be a small bit of catharsis – as anyone who completed a doctoral program knows, it is a march to the death at times with the workload. It will come out as I reflect on my progress through year 1, I had my doubts if I could continue…if I wanted to continue. Crazy right?

My program at DePaul’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business is three years. That is key. It means – a lot of immersion into material and projects. It means – a dissertation must be done by the end of year 3. It means – I had no idea how much work and cognitive energy it would take, even after completing my MBA at Chicago Booth, a top notch MBA program with enormous demands. As of now, I am in the class of 2019!

You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.

-Dr Seuss.

2,000 pages of reading (roughly)! I tracked all our assignments and particularly the reading from year 1. Yep, that is more than Tolstoy’s War and Peace (only 1,200 pages). I don’t think I particularly found magic as reading an academic journal article is not quite a page turner! I did, however, discover amazing content that I and many of my cohort members had not been previously exposed to. Upon jumping in the “cold pool” of journal reading, I found myself confused as if reading in a foreign language. That means many articles were read more than once to get the flow and meaning! I did not double count in my page summation, by the way.


I think I also realized why the reading was so hard – because it was SO interesting. Coming into education with years of experience offers much more context. The reading explained many things that I had often wondered about and also, said, “huh” more than a few times. As an MBA and consultant, I was not trained to review scholarly articles, maybe Harvard Business Review or an industry white paper. I missed this depth of research.

This was exactly one of the reasons I wanted to pursue my doctorate in the first place. Learning the things I had missed in my prior educational experience and gaining deeper exposure to concepts that I was accidentally running into or working with superficially.

Was that article written in English?

-Attributed to multiple DBA students on several occassions

There were times that our class would discuss our reading during lunch. Someone would ask…”Was that article written in English?” We would laugh as all of us were thinking the same thing. By the end of the year, proficiency in journal article reading had improved, comprehension of material increased, and the load of assignments a little less. We now see our colleague in the new cohort, just beginning this navigation of the journal article…and wish them well!

If you are a graduate student, I hope you will find this blog insightful and maybe even inspiring. If you are an experienced professional thinking of returning to graduate school (masters or doctorate), I hope I might give you insight into that journey.

My simple summary – JUST DO IT!

Back to the books – until next time, Pam

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