Hoping someone can offer some insights on pursuing a PhD. under there circumstances????
posted by mdn31 to Education (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am a special education teacher, and have taught in the same district (various positions) for roughly 12 years. I completed my masters in 2001 (only 3 years after my BA), so I am sitting at a pretty good place in the payscale and looking at a pretty good retirement (if I stay put). I also have a dream to earn a PhD. I enjoy research and feel that I would like to learn more about my field (answer specific questions via research), and share that with the special education community at large. To this end, I actively pursued PhD. applications in 2005/6. At that time, I applied to 4 programs, traveled for interviews, even interviewed for jobs in the states (all 4 schools were out of state). There were some good prospects, but nothing was quite "right". My masters advisor strongly suggested that I NOT pursue any program which would not at least fund me at 50%. Remembering back now, I was accepted at 3 of the 4 programs. However, one was not offering funding, and the other 2, did not have a strong faculty background in my research areas. It simply did not work out in the end (but not for a lack of trying). I was in my late 20s at the time, and felt that I could still try for it again in the future, so I let it go...still, it has ALWAYS been in the back of my mind to pursue the option again. However, as life has a way of doing, things have changed a bit in the past 6 years Some good, some bad...the good: I have gained more experience in the very areas I want to research. I also have been teaching as an adjunct at a local college and got some experience working at the college level (loved it!). The bad: I am in my mid-thirties now, and while I don't have a family, I do own rental property. I never intended to still have my properties (2 small buildings) but with the real estate crises, selling has not been an option for most of the last 3 years (due to a significant dip in value). That said, the only reason my homes have not foreclosed is that I am supporting the mortgages, with my salary...
Which brings me to my "D" day question. This past year, I learned about a GREAT opportunity to earn a PhD. The program is fully funded and provides a stipend (this stipend is about 1/3 of my current income). The program is designed for persons interested in my research areas, so there would be sufficient support. All applications materials are dues at the end of December (which is a month from today)...so, in the next month, I would have to apply (letters of rec, application statement, retake the GRE, etc.)...I think that is feasible, but not exactly stress-free. They will notify re: acceptance by March. The bigger issue however, is, can I really pursue this in light of the fact that I can's afford to sustain my properties on a stipend, nor to I want that stress looming over me as a PhD. student/candidate. I have scoured the metafilter threads on PhDs and a lot of folks really advise against pursuing them. Most of those discouraging others seem to say that the job market is dismal, and that you typically have to relocate. For me, I hope those things will not be an issue. For one, I am relatively sure I have a good chance at a job in academia when I finish. 2) I have no problem relocating. I do have a concern about walking away from my current "comfy", secure teaching position, now that I am in my mid-thirties, to pursue a dream, that ultimately could fail? Further, I understand that the rate of professor pay is pretty similar to what I make now, and likely, even with a stipend, I will have to take out additional loans...Finally, and perhaps the biggest issue, is how to keep my houses afloat if I voluntarily take a dip in salary. So truthfully, there are so many variables regarding if I can really make this happen and I am really on the fence. There is a part of me that feels I should go ahead with the application process, and work toward it as if everything will work out (there is also a chance I will not be accepted which would void the opportunity entirely). Still, I don't like the idea of going into it with so much uncertainty, but I am not sure I am ready to give up completely. Thoughts?