Applying to PhD programs, Pt.1: Reasons for Applying

I take to heart the advice of one of my master’s professors: “If you’re at all interested in getting a master’s, get a masters. Only get a PhD if you have to get a PhD.”

Since I’ve been young, there are a few ideas I’ve always had about what I’d like to do as I grew up. I would like to direct theatre and film. I would like to write in all sorts of media. I would like to teach at the collegiate level. Getting to work in the arts is hard, at least if you want to make a living. I had settled for being an educator who wrote– imparting my passion and knowledge to the next generation to the best of my ability as I wrote on weekends and breaks.

And I really enjoyed the teaching. One of the ways I know I’ve been an educator at heart is that when I talk to those outside the field, they say, “I don’t think I could handle the kids.”

An educator understands that it’s much harder to handle the parents, the administrators, and the legislators. Issues around teaching and impossible expectations heap up. Money doesn’t.

Time to write, one of the hopes of my being an educator, was rare. Weekends are a time to barely rally for the next week. Shorter breaks, in fall and spring, are enough to get a good rest. I was allowed to be creative essentially only during winter and summer; those breaks always start with staring at the work from the break before and wondering if I’ll ever finish or write again. I feared that I would be similar to the film Mr. Holland’s Opus: a teacher who got to finish ONE work.

But, the longer I was in the classroom, I got to teach at the dual credit (college level in high school) classes. These were easily my favorite classes because I got to treat my subject as seriously as I had always desired. More recently, I’ve had the chance to teach at a local college as an adjunct instructor. Still, I have not had the chance to achieve my goal: to teach full time at a college.

But, if I do say so myself, I was good at it.

So, with the idea of teaching full time as a professor out of reach otherwise, I have started to look into applying to PhDs. Thankfully, having left the teaching profession, I have had more time and energy to write creatively, teach at a college, and apply to these PhD programs.

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