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About this blog

As I venture through the application process for Summer/Fall 2016 admits to four programs.  Included are DBA - Wilmington University, PhD, Technology Management, NYU, PhD, Technology Management, Indiana State, PhD, Personal Financial Planning, Kansas State.

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So - as I attempt to procrastinate my way into ignoring very real assignment commitments, I figured I'd write a post on "what happens next."  As you may (or may not know) I applied to 6 programs, was accepted 3, and ended up attending my first choice program.  I applied to 4 PhD Programs, a DPA program, and a DBA program.  I got into 2 PhD programs and the DBA programs.  Of course I've gone back to see what the other programs look like.  One PhD program gets 30-40 applications and accepts 4 with hopes of getting 2.  The year prior to my application they accepted only and were looking for faculty. No specific details.  The other PhD only took in 4 students against a usual class of 10-12.  Suddenly I don't feel so badly.  I considered the DPA to be a sure thing - still not sure what went wrong there.  So - now that I've reflected on my defeats - where is it all at?

I ended up with a summer entry - taking a summer course in my specialization (3 credits).  For the fall I took two courses, one in the program main curriculum (3 credits) and another in my specialization (3 credits), along with a research residency (1 credit).  The result - All A's (including an A+ - I didn't even know these existed!).  For 2017 I'm in my residency year, which requires that I do one 9 credit semester and an 18 credit year.  I took the 9 credits in the spring (which is now and the work I'm currently avoiding).  One course has concluded (I needed a 62 on the final paper to get an A - so I should be ok there).  The second course, which I'm working now (I need to submit two papers tonight, one is half written, the other is a short research report - I'm taking "short" to heart).  This course has given almost nothing in terms of feedback, so I really don't know where I stand.  The third the professor (who is also my program planning chair) went out early in the semester with medical issues.  I don't know when or if she'll return, so this could complicate things.  The sub in professor has been fantastic and I'm chugging along quite nicely.  That paper is due in about 5 days.  I will start it right after I finish these two.  

Am I happy I went into the program?  Yes.  Do I regret it?  Also, yet.  It has been an overwhelming amount of work, but I can see and feel my growth as an academic.  This is part of the life/career plan - so I'm fortunate to be moving forward and accomplishing the goals I've set for myself.  For the rest of this year I'll be taking an independent study this summer to work on a paper that can lead to publication as well as a conference (which will be 3 credits and falls into the professional development section).  In the fall I'll take another specialization course and another core curriculum.  

In terms of progress I'm currently planning to sit for prelims at the 3 year mark and have set aside another year and a half for dissertation.  This would put me out at about 4.5 years, well below average (from what I've read) and well before my 40th birthday (my goal).  I'm just hoping I can sustain momentum and clear prelims without too much a challenge.  To all of you just starting - I wish you the very best.  Dig in, dig deep, and keep moving forward.  Good luck to you all.




After an incredibly long day I rolled home.  I ate some swedish fish for dinner (because that's what grad students do, right?!?).  I took a shower and took the dogs for a walk.  I opened my mailbox and the final response I had been waiting for was in there.  Valdosta was the last school to get back to me and had sent an email telling me to expect results last week.  The date on the letter to date of receipt was a nine day difference.  I was rejected.  I was kind of surprised.  When I check their admission criteria I checked it all (over GRE requirements, over GPA requirements, lengthy job history, related MA).  I had already made my decision and largely just wanted the ego boost associated with the acceptance (I know - barf here.  I get that's kind of a gross way of thinking).  Still, it's disappointing.

I set out the school search with very strict criteria - the ability to remain in my job, no relocation necessary (so either local or residency sessions only), career related that could lead to something in academics, and a price that was affordable.  In the end it came down to Valdosta, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Kansas State, Indiana State, NYU, and Wilmington University.  Texas Tech also offered a program that could have been a fit, but it hit my radar after I was well underway with other programs.  I knew my GRE could be a limitation (my scores were respectable and higher than many fields, but in Business I was behind, especially in quantitative measures).  I had a couple of F's on my undergrad transcript (from classes that the withdraw was never processed for when I relocated from PA to IL).  My Graduate GPA was ok (nothing spectacular, however it's a combined GPA for my MA/MBA as it was a joint program - the MBA alone was something like 3.93.  I struggled more in the MA program). 

As I searched things unfolded.  In some ways it seemed cosmic or that fate had a hand.  Initially I had planned to apply to only Wilmington, Kansas State, and Valdosta.  Valdosta fell off of the list.  A friend who's in the program at IUP recommended it.  I added it to the list.  Kansas State came up in a google search.  NYU sent me a solicitation to apply after the GRE.  That solicitation lead to a google search that revealed Indiana State's program.  I saw it and immediately it checked all of the boxes.  Price tag, flexibility, field of interest, etc.  When I received the acceptance I was over the moon.  I was on a losing streak with both Kansas State and NYU.  I was in at Wilmington (which I immediately turned down with no other offer in hand) and IUP (which was a very serious consideration).  I was trying to wait out ISU's response and when I got it I fell all over myself.  I didn't realize how deeply tied I already was to going here or how well I saw the program going.

I graduated on Friday the 13th and started my PhD on Monday the 16th (for the purposes of being up front I finished in December, but Seton Hall only offers one graduation per year).  I had been tied up teaching 15-20 hours a week on top of my full time job, so I never got a break.  The program is a bit convoluted in terms of navigation, but I'm getting the hang of it.  I'm not sure if I should be elated or disappointed that i only got into 50% of the programs I applied to (though getting into my first choice is huge).  I'm looking forward to what comes and the process.  I'm hoping I can weather the storm nicely and come out the other side a minted PhD.


Down to the End

So the time has come.  I have to decide among a few acceptances.  Yes, I understand that this is a good problem to have, but it's also challenging to sort through what the best option is.  If it's the best option - will the faculty be who I want to work with.  I'm also waiting to hear from one more program.

To recap - I was accepted to Indiana University of Pennsylvania in their Communication Medias and Instructional Technology PhD, Indiana State in a consortium PhD in Technology Management with a specialization in Human Resource Development & Industrial Training, and a DBA program at Wilmington University.  I'm still waiting to hear from a DPA program at Valdosta State.  I was rejected from the PhD in Technology Management at New York University as well as a PhD program in Personal Financial Planning at Kansas State.

I had already passed on the acceptance from Wilmington.  During my interview it seemed very canned.  They asked a half a dozen typical professional interview questions (tell us about your background, what qualities are necessary to succeed, etc).  They administered their own admission tests (one on finance, one on writing where I corrected a one page paper for grammar and syntax issues, and one verbal reasoning).  They didn't accept GRE's.  Judging by their assessments I can only guess that folks had been accepted who lacked basic business skills.  I also wasn't sure that the coursework would be any more challenging or provide skills beyond my MBA.  It was also a cohort based model, which isn't necessarily ideal.

Indiana State was a little late on the decision side.  They were initially quite helpful, but that has slid off as I continued to reach out.  I'm hoping that picks up, but the temporary advisor I was given doesn't inspire much competition (PhD students are largely left to their own devices).  However, just trying to play coursework between five universities is rather challenging.  That being said, the program seems to be the best fit for me, so this will likely be where I end up.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania has been far and away the most helpful.  While the program isn't the perfect fit, it's quite interesting.  It also offers all of the coursework in person (which will require significant travel back and forth) but could still work.  I really liked the folks in the program and the smaller program size.  However, due to it being a bit out of the box I won't get as much tuition assistance from work.  I did apply for GA positions, but unsure how this will shake out.  It's a cohort based program, but you can choose credit load, which does give some flexibility.  This could be the dark horse in my decision making. 

NYU and Kansas State are no longer a consideration based on the rejections.  Unsure that Valdosta is the one, but I'll have to see if I get accepted and put it in the mix for consideration. 

I thought his would be the easiest part, but it's still proving to be quite challenging. 


Decision Time

So I had intended to start to knock these out one by one as I heard back, but life happened.  I'll walk through what some of the experiences have been and how I thought things would shake out.

Kansas State - I thought for sure I'd be in here and it was my first response.  My LOR's were from the department chair, associate dean, and my employer.  The program fit with both the department chair's background who could make a stronger argument as well as my research interests.  In the end I was rejected.  I got a form letter that was a scanned PDF emailed to me.  The letter contained a grammatical error (and I resisted my initial urge to correct it and send it back to them).  It contained the typical verbiage one would expect (many applicants, research interests, etc, etc, etc).  Annoying, but it is what it is.

NYU - I knew this was a stretch, however they had solicited me for the PhD program, so I went right on ahead an applied.  It was their school of engineering (formerly the Poly, now Tandon due to a $100,000,000 gift - yes - that's the right number of 0's).  I attended an open house where I was the only PhD candidate for the particular field I applied to.  I thought things were well crafted, my LOR's strong.  At the open house was when things started to become a concern.  My understanding is that the department is fairly small.  They typically accept 4, hoping to get 2.  Last year they only took 1.  1 out of however many applicants (the person indicated they get 30-40).  Also, the person I met I had previously emailed and called (no response) in addition to emails that went unanswered from various faculty, department chairs, and other heads of the department.  So.  To the garbage went their rejection email. 

Wilmington U - This was one of the early contenders.  The format worked for me being mostly online.  Not being a PhD wasn't ideal, but I could've made it work.  I did discover that the program is set up in a cohort model, which I tend not to prefer.  At my interview (which I drove down to Delaware for) everything went well, but it became apparent that this wasn't the program for me.  I was given assessments (finance, verbal reasoning, and writing that was correcting a sample paper).  They didn't want my GRE - but gave these, which seemed to be kind of novice level.  I was concerned that their DBA would be less academically rigorous than my MBA.  I knew when I walked out it wasn't the place for me.  Inevitably it would become my first acceptance.  They sent a letter offering me admissions to two different cohorts (neither of which were the cohorts I applied to).  They wanted a response in early March, earlier than I would hear from anyone else.  I rolled the dice and declined, sending back the form.  I never heard from them.  I would've thought they'd want to know why someone had opted out.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania - This was one of my emergency pics after being declined admission at Kansas State.  KSU was my first response, so panic set in quickly.  Someone I worked with ages ago is in the program and seems to enjoy it very much.  So I applied. While not a perfect fit I think it's something that could be very interesting and change the direction of my learning a bit.  I drove out to interview with them and it seemed to be a fit.  While driving home (about 4 hours) of course questions came to mind.  I emailed the program coordinator who happily answered all of my questions and also told me I had been admitted.  These folks have been the easiest to reach, given the best information, and generally have been the nicest - something I value greatly in this process.  I don't want to go it alone in this process and it is largely a welcome change to have a school help you through the process.

Indiana State - This was one of the more rigorous applications (5 LOR's).  I applied for Summer, but would be open for Fall.  They over specializations in the program, so I found that rather refreshing.  I was able to track someone down at Indiana State who was quite helpful.  The department chair also answered questions as needed and as I reached out.  I was told in February that I could expect an answer the week of 3/14.  Turns out it's also the same week as their spring break.  I followed-up immediately after their spring break to be told they hope to have answers by the end of April, but can't guarantee this.  It's slightly frustrating as this program is probably the best fit and will likely win out, should I be accepted.  More to come.

Valdosta State - This was a contender early on, however I dropped it from the set as it was the program that seemed to be the lesser fit (DPA rather than PhD, no comps or dissertation, etc) but after bad news started coming I added it to my list.  My package isn't due until 4/15, but I'm now only waiting on a single LOR (ugh). 

Overall some disappointments and more stress than I anticipated.  It's going to be a long 4-6 weeks after this. 


Valdosta State - DPA

So this was in the mix from early on.  I had initially decided not to apply when I started looking for programs.  I was bent on a PhD and was concerned that I couldn't find any where I could continue to work full time and that would be affordable.  I instead opted for the DBA program at Wilmington.  After an early rejection (with more to come on this subject in my next blog) panic set in.  I added (or re-added) Valdosta to my list.  I scored an interview at another program and when I sat down in the room it was clear that the program wasn't going to be a fit.  I would get an acceptance (more to come here, too) but turn it down.  So as I moved on to Valdosta it was perhaps the easiest of the group.  The statement was 1-2 pages.  The application was pretty straight forward.  It also required a resume and 3 references (normal, right?).  The department was responsive, easy to access, and gave quick replies.  I find this to be a very promising sign of a program where you can get support.  Some of the others I'm still experiencing radio silence on (despite having questions that I would've liked answered prior to applying).  The only downside I saw to Valdosta is that everything outside the application is paper based (resume, statement, and references all have to be mailed in).  The good news is that they do update the system so I can see what they have received and what I'm still waiting on.  So here's hoping for good news.  I still have 3 programs to hear from, including this one.


So I had completely excluded this program from my plans.  It's setup as a every other weekend format for coursework and about 5 hours from where I live (so I'd be commuting to my parents every other weekend then returning to work and life where I live).  I wasn't going to apply as it isn't a direct fit to my research or course interests.  However I had only applied to 4 programs.  1 had rejected me.  1 had accepted me and I didn't want to go there.  I had applied to 2 other programs, 1 I've got a snowball's shot in hell of getting into and 1 I've probably got a decent chance at, but I'm not sure (and it's my first choice). Panic set in and I applied to IUP.  They have been by far the most responsive, accommodating, etc.  While the program isn't an exact fit to what I hope to accomplish, the fact that they've been available is huge.  I've worried about the bulk of the programs I applied to being a problem with getting assistance at maneuvering through the coursework and dissertation.  With significant support and resources (not financial) it seems as though sometimes it is work considering the program as it can be tailored a bit more, rather than trying to fit into a very small box.  I heard back quickly once my file was complete and I have an interview scheduled for 3/14.  It's relief and a breath of fresh air from a process that has been something along the lines of excruciating. 


Indiana State University

So now we seem to be a bit more sequential in my blogs.  I've arrive at Indiana State 4th, which was also my 4th application to submit.  The University was never on my radar, it was the result of NYU sending me the solicited application for their Technology Management program.  I was typing Technology Management PhD into my Google search box automatically filled "online."  Indiana State popped up.  It's actually a consortium program that includes Indiana State (obviously,) Bowling Green, East Carolina, North Carolina A&T, and Central Missouri.  You do select a home campus, however your tuition is billed by the institution teaching the class.  There is also five specializations for the degree (which seems to be unique and I found very interesting).  I was forewarned that sometimes it can get a bit messy registering and paying bills (as your are billed by whichever institution you are taking a particular class with).  However, I found the folks I talked to turned out to be some of the most helpful.  The program required 5 LORs (which seems unusually high compared to everywhere else that I applied).  At this point I'm in a holding pattern waiting to see where I end up - I think that this could end up being my first choice program.  TBD.


Kansas State

When I started looking for Doctorate programs, this was the one that started the search.  Having spent 15 years in banking a PhD in Personal Financial Planning seemed to be a perfect compliment (despite working on the commercial/lending side).  Tracking down someone to talk to was difficult.  The department chair was out on leave.  The program admin/coordinator took some time to respond.  The program required a 10 page statement (ugh) and while the application required a writing sample, I would later be told it wouldn't be reviewed.  The admin also retired partway through the semester so I got no guidance on items going in (the application required electronic copies of transcripts, not all of which I had).  When I spoke to the graduate admissions department I would be told that I didn't need to send official transcripts unless I was admitted (but the department told me I did).  The program seems very well structured despite being formatted for distance with residency.  I'm starting to think a lack of assistance and accessibility is more the norm than the exception.  This was also the first program to send a decision (declination).  It was a bit of a rub where there were grammatical errors in the rejection, most of which I wanted to correct and send back.  So far I've restrained myself.



So for my second entry I'll be reviewing the NYU application process.  NYU was nowhere on my radar, nor was a PhD in Technology Management.  After taking my GRE (my GMAT scores that I used for my MBA/MADIR were awful) and scoring in the top half to top third I got a free application offer from NYU.  After looking at the program I thought it might be a fit and at no cost - I was ready.  While the price tag is staggering compared to many programs I looked at - I figured I would see where it would take me.  It also seemed like a natural fit to my career (banking) and my earlier education.  Proposed research surrounded retraining and compliance in an industry being heavily influenced by technology and the use of technology for sustainable development in Latin America.  The process was straight forward and easy.  I did reach out to the chair/head of the program via email - it went unanswered.  I reached out to the administrative manager via email and phone call.  They both went unanswered.  I reached out to someone who had appeared to have a supervisory capacity (thought their title has changed on the website)  That email also went unanswered.  I reached out to an alum who adjuncts in the program who gave strong insights and also connected me with a current student.  The student got me in touch with a professor who was quite helpful, thought not a research match.  Their research seems to fall into three areas, I'm guessing largely due to having three research faculty.  Since the program resides in the Tandon School of Engineering (the former Poly) I'm unsure what the requirements will be for admission.  It seems to be quite a small program, but carries the NYU brand.  At this point I'm just waiting to see where things may go, thought the process was a bit disappointing in terms of response/accessibility of faculty and administration. 


 Let's start with the first application filed for this post.

Wilmington - Offers the lowest ranking of the programs I applied to.  It is a DBA program (that should in theory focus on practice more than research) that could be attractive should I opt to remain in banking.  It also offered the easiest application process.  There was no GMAT or GRE required.  It required a 2-3 page statement, 3 references (handwritten), and transcripts.  I hit some snags with the program (I was applying prior to my MBA and MA being conferred, which I was told wouldn't be a problem - it was).  I went through the process of tracking down recommendations, transcripts, etc. to be told that they would hold my file until conferred.  Mind you I had rushed to submit this application (ahead of other programs I'm potentially more interested in) because I was told the cohorts fill quickly based on the rolling admissions.  I pushed back with the University due to the conflicting responses I had received and was sent up the line to someone else who told me they would go ahead and score my application.  This was offered with a big BUT.  They have 4-5 interviews scheduled for the remaining 3 or so spots.  I've received an invitation for an interview, but it appears I'll be hoping for someone to defer if I get through this process.  I'll be in Wilmington on 2/3 to see what unfolds.  I'm not hanging it up yet.  It could be an interesting program and maybe it'll work out?

Best, Mark