Stephen Kilgore

So, as previous posts alluded to, last week was the first week of my doctoral program. I didn’t really know what to expect and was a bit nervous.

One thing that I knew would be an adjustment was letting go of the competency model I’d gotten so used to at WGU. At WGU, there were no due dates for assignments or tests. Each class had a set of competencies that you needed to meet by taking an assessment or writing a paper. You have a set amount of classes you have to complete per six month term. It is up to you to complete each class’s assessments and papers in whatever timeframe you see fit within that six months. If you complete all of your assigned classes before your six month term is over, you can add another class to your list and begin working on this. As such, it’s self-paced.

My doctoral program, on the other hand, is the traditional model with set weekly readings, weekly assignments, and research papers. I haven’t been in that mind set since I was a student at Georgia Southern back in 2013! Still, it was a pretty easy adjustment. I actually find the traditional approach more comforting. I know what needs to be done and when and can budget my time accordingly. At WGU, you have this overall elephant of a course that you have to get through and prove competency for. While that is great because it allows you to earn your degree faster, there is a downside in not having the more measured approach.

Methodologies aside, I really enjoyed my first week’s readings and assignment. While it was mostly a more in-depth rehash of what I had already done for my MBA, it felt like a good reinforcement of my knowledge. The true test is going to be what sort of feedback I receive from the professor. At WGU, feedback really was a weak point. You’re just trying to prove competency to some pre-determined level and the graders (who are not your instructors) are just following pre-determined criteria. I am hoping that my instructor takes the time to provide real, actionable feedback on the assignment.

Overall, the rigor definitely seems there. One of my main takeaways I want to earn from this doctorate is the feeling of accomplishment of having completed it. In that respect, I hope it comes off to be as challenging and as rewarding as a traditional, face-to-face PhD.

No complaints as of yet! I’ll update when I get the results from week 1’s assignment.

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