Ph.D. Day One

A thirteen hour day marked the beginning of the first residency for my Ph.D. in Human Capital Management at Bellevue University today. And from what I’m gathering, I’d better get used to days like this.

Bizarrely, I’m delighted.

The first two hours were filled with meet-and-greet, which isn’t surprising. There are twenty-three students in my cohort, meaning we’ll be taking two years of classes together and will be working on our individual research project dissertations at the same time. Between them and the faculty, there were a lot of people to get to know.

We then had a panel discussion with five panelists sharing their perspectives on life as a Ph.D. student, including two folks who just finished their comprehensive exams and three actual Ph.D.s from other nearby universities. After that, we had a quick lunch and a tour of the physical campus.

A note about Bellevue University… Sure enough, it’s an actual four-walls brick-and-mortar university, just like I wanted. There’s a certain relief to know that it’s a for-real institution of higher learning and not some quickie diploma mill. The campus itself was very pretty, but let’s be honest here: I’ll be taking almost all of my classes online, with weeklong residencies set in symposium halls, not classrooms, so chances are good that I’ll never see those buildings again. But still, I suppose it’s good that we got grounded in the in-person aspects of the school.

The rest of the afternoon felt more productive — we had a tour of the virtual library/research tools available to us, which will be hugely helpful later on. We had a quick refresher on core statistical concepts, since a large portion of our work will include statistical analysis of research results. And we had dinner with the president of the university, who shared the history of (and future vision for) the Ph.D. program here. We wrapped with a discussion on “Rhythms of Academic Life” where one of the professors told us more about what to expect over the next several years (and tips for how to succeed).

Over and over again, we’re told that this is an intense program. About half of the students from each of the three cohorts that came before mine have dropped out of the program. The ones who remain tell horror stories of spending 30-40 hours per week on schoolwork alone! And that’s pretty much nonstop for two full years, after which point the dissertation starts. (Depending on who you ask, it either gets harder or easier after that.)

Bottom line, this is going to be a huge commitment, and I have to really focus on keeping up with all of the work if I want to have a hope in Hell of succeeding.

But hey, if it was quick or easier I wouldn’t place any value on it, right?

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