It is after 3am and I am trying to remember what it is I want to do, again, and why.
With 21 credit hours -- three of which are an independent study I've yet to, uh, independently study -- my grant writing and sleeping I am having a hard time keeping track of all my apps.
Part of the problem is programs have become my new shiny thing. I love shiny things. I once seriously considered spending my electric bill money on a pair of gold and silver sparkly cowgirl boots at Marshall's. I'm black, by the way. I'm pretty sure doing the former would have called into question the latter. Anyway, the point is I see a place I wouldn't mind attending and I open an app!
Time passes and I forget it exists, or, I get so wrapped up in it that I forget about the other pressing items on my to-do list.
Today I got an email about a fee waiver (you must check out the CIC fee waiver program if you haven't already) and I realize I almost paid for that app a few weeks ago! I'm losing tracking of these things. My UMich app was just hanging out there with no progress and a fee waiver. So, I got both free apps done but that brings us back to it being after 3am.
I have been super-invested in this process. I started my SOP template this past summer. I contacted schools. I did the research. What I neglected to do was devise a system to manage it all. I've tried spreadsheets and to-do lists but I never seem to have either handy when I feel the urge to organize and so I end up creating a whole new document. I now have five docs with some version of "grad school list" in its title.
Needless to say, I don't feel like I'm being very efficient. However, I have completed five apps, including LORs and supplements mailed. I met all my crazy early deadlines - Nov 1st! - and I am mostly up-to-date on my school work. It won't be a stellar semester. I have lowered my standards from "blow it out of the water" to "keep my head above water". But I guess it's progress..right? Right?!
All of this minutiae is not my thing. That's the other issue. I'd much rather be immersed in theory, research, teaching and passionate discussions about things only a few people in the world care about. I'm the typical absentminded professor, only I'm no professor.
I called my superstar mentor (hereafter: Dr. Supastar) last week and told him I needed him to tell me I would be accepted. He said I would and not to worry. I must remember this direct approach for dating.
Ahhh, I remember dating.
See? Something shiny.
Welcome to my process. It should be lots of fun if you're not me and this isn't your life.
A little free time, so I will go through the areas tht I looked at when I was deciding which schools to apply to. I found a really good website that actually had all of this information for every school that offers an Accounting PhD. So for anyone interested in this let me know and I will send it your way. Here were my criteria, this not an exact order of importance, but the more important things are near the top.
1. Research Interest Fit- In accounting there are 4 different areas where people do research. It is sort of set up in to two groups of two. They all can somewhat overlap though. There is one area in particular that interests me. Even though I may end up doing something else, I wanted the possibility to work with professors who did research in this area. Therefore, I eliminated any school that did not have any professor who did this type of research. I did all of this on an excel spreadsheet so I literally deleted schools off of it as I went through the steps.
2. Placement of Past PhD Students- I used this to determine how "good" a school was. This doesn't mean I only picked schools that placed graduates at Harvard or Ivy league schools. I wanted to make sure that when I graduated I would have the opportunity to go to schools that I was pretty sure I would enjoy being at for the rest of my life. Primarily at this point I eliminated schools that only placed students at schools where I could never see myself being. This was mostly used to narrow down schools where I thought I would be comfortable.
The Remaining Criteria are less important, but I used them to narrow down my selections:
3. Amount of Stipend- As I mentioned in my Introduction post, I am married with a baby on the way, so the more money offered the better.
4. Average Time to Graduate- I really don't want to be in graduate school forever. I know this is very different for other program types, but in Accounting 5 years is a pretty common completion time. I tried to focus on schools where graduating in 4 years was a possibility and I eliminated any that said it would probably take 6 years.
5. The Opportunity to Teach- I really want to teach a few classes while I am in graduate school, so any schools that mentioned the possibility of not teaching were cut.
6. Geography- I think some people have this too high on their priority list. For some people I understand that you have reasons why you are limited in where you can go, but for people fresh out of college this is the perfect time to get out of your comfort zone. Be open to the idea of moving somewhere else, you may love the school and the area. If you love the school and hate the area then its a good thing you won't be there forever. This is on my list primarily because my wife vetoed some states because they were too cold. Other than that I was fairly open to going anywhere.
7. Attractiveness of Website- I honestly only used this once to cut a school I was iffy about anyway, but the fact that I got almost no information from the website an the difficulty of navigating it really made me wonder how good the shool was. I wouldn't use this as a primary method of attack, but if you have to choose one school or the other this may be as good as flipping a coin.
8. Instinct- There were some schools that just did not feel right, and then again there were the ones I chose that just looking at the website got me excited.
I know there are a few more criteria that I probably used without thinking about it but numbers 1 and 2 were the big ones for me. Average test scores and GPAs played a role in the process as well, but I will probaly get more in to that later. If you have any other suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments section, as I know everyone's journey is different.
This entry will just be a short introduction about me, so you can get a feel for what I am doing and how it is similar or different from your process. In future entries I plan to go back to the start of my application process, and work my way forward. I have finished all of my applications, so I have seen most of what goes in to the application process, and later hopefully I will see the interview pocess. So, if the first few entries bore you because you are already past that point, I am sorry but I will try to catch up in a timely matter, so I can add a little information to what everyone is going through now.
I am trying to get into an accounting PhD program. I am currently employed in the typical accountant job for my age, and I have been out of school for about two years now. I am married and we are expecting our first child in a few weeks (her due date is 12/22). My lovely wife has decided that she will follow me almost anywhere and she has plans to get a undergrad degree at whichever school we end up at.
I decided I wanted to pursue a PhD while I was in Graduate School for my Masters program. For those of you in different programs an Accounting Masters is much different than most other Masters degrees, to me it felt like just an extra year of undergraduate work in more field specific classes. People do not generally go straight from a Masters degree to a PhD program in accounting so I got a job instead. It may not make much sense but finding out that we were going to have a baby is what jumpstarted my pursuit of a PhD. At first I thought that I should attempt to find a different job in the hopes that I could make a little more money and work a more normal schedule. Through that process I somehow stumbled upon some graduate school websites and decided that we should just be poor for a few years and I should get my PhD now. It had become clear to us that our lives were moving quickly and if I didn't attempt this now, I probably never would.
This is a basic overview of who I am and how I got to this point. I will try to add a post later in the week that goes over how I decided which schools to apply to, and then after that hopefully I can start getting in to the specifics of my application materials.
If you have any questions feel free to post a comment or send me a message.