Hey Sunshine! I just noticed that you're currently an EdM student applying to the PhD program. Was that your plan all along or did it just seem like a logical extension of your studies at Harvard?
And finally, does being there make you feel like you have any kind of leg up, or does it not matter at all?
Good luck! Us EdM applicants are just twiddling our thumbs at the moment (or avoiding filling out financial aid apps... *coughs and points at self*)
Hey NoChance (very optimist alias you've got there... ) - I've known for a long time that research is my thing (insert long story about multiple life confirmations of this over the last 8 years or so). I think the interest in the PhD coincided pretty heavily with a rapidly growing passion for social networking over the last couple years. Before I started at HGSE I was like, "I know this is something I like, I think a PhD might be a good idea somewhere down the road"
Then I took Ebony Bridwell-Mitchell's social networking course and Monica Higgin's Leadership and Learning Course and also at the same time was in a Micro Org Behavior PhD course at HBS. Everything just sort of came together really strongly and quickly and hit me in the face so hard I couldn't ignore it. I got along really well with the PhD kids at HBS and felt like I "fit in" and found that most of the kids in my other classes I got along best with were EdD students. I not only became more interested in social networks, but my burning questions around school staff relationship building really came to the forefront of my interests and I began seeing more and more how social networks can be used to answer unanswered questions that came up in the literature from my classes. I also came to realize how new and young and undeveloped research applying this perspective to education is and how the work that is being done to advance what we know about the topic really still is in the incubation phase of the academic bubble which I think was the turning point between thinking a PhD was a nice idea to knowing it was something I needed to seek out. By October or so, the place I was at was, "ok, I'll go work a couple years, with plans to come back and get the doctorate after I get more work experience."
Then I had this super weird couple of weeks where people I barely knew of classes were literally pulling me aside and unsolicitedly urging me to seek out a PhD. It was super weird. So I thought about it more and realized I was so anxious to move forward with this research that going back to work felt like a hoop to jump through - why jump through a hoop if you don't have to? So I pulled my application together super quick and got it in before the deadline.
On the one hand, it was almost just too weird the number of unsolicited nudges I was getting from people that I'm a little inclined to think it meant something and this is going to work out for me. On the other hand, I've only had two years of work experience and I know admissions STRONGLY urges you to go work and then come back. All three professors I told I was applying, the first thing they asked was, "are you worried about not going back to work first?" so it's a real thing that I recognize I'm up against and admissions might ultimately conclude it's not my time yet.
In terms of being at HGSE currently, I personally do feel it's a leg up. One of my recommendations was from my would-be advisor and it was a surprisingly strong recommendation. Plus I've been able to pop by the offices of the professors I'm interested in working with so I can better articulate exactly why I want to work with them. And I have a sense of the community and culture of HGSE and *think* I know how to speak to my fit with that (oh yeah, btw guys, it's AWESOME here - I've never been so happy. For real).
That said, the professors don't have much say in who gets in. It's an admissions committee over at GSAS. HGSE has a little say, but not a lot. So I think that greatly diminishes the impact of any leg up I may have by being here. Conversely, Stanford's PhD decisions all come from within the department you're applying to and the professors DO get the final say, yet I haven't met or spoken with any of them beyond emails none of them have replied to. So, we'll see. I might get screwed just by nature of who/how the decisions are made. Either way, I now KNOW this is what I want to do, and even if I don't get in this time, I know that I want to reapply so there's still positive takeaway here