3 Myths About Grad School—and Why You Should Apply in the New Year

January 03, 2019

Amy Vaughan-Roland, Ed.D.

Ed.D. in Leadership

When I enrolled with ACE for the second time to earn my Ed.D in Leadership, I was really surprised at the number of people who had something to say. (Spoiler alert: not all of them were encouraging.)  See, I already have two master’s degrees and people were really quick to ask, “A doctorate? What will you ever do with that?” The truth is… I don’t know! I’m still exploring and this is just another avenue to keep my options open. And for me, that’s the best part.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have my doubts early on. I’m a full-time special education teacher, going to grad school, working on my family’s farm, volunteering and raising two tiny humans. Even after my acceptance, I still found myself asking, “How am I going to do this?” But the truth is we all have competing obligations and it’s all too easy to come up with reasons not to pursue our dreams. So, as we enter into a new year, I want to encourage you. Let’s start by upending the myths you may have been told or told yourself about the journey through academia.

I don’t have time: MYTH

Friend, no matter how you slice it, there are 24 hours in a day. I like to tell people that this past year I’ve learned that you aren’t too busy, you just need to work on your time management. My husband and I utilize a shared calendar app that allows us to keep up with each other as well as our kids’ plans. When an event is added or approaching, it sends text reminders so we all know what is happening.

Get a hotspot and a tablet and keep them with you. Having those allows you to work from anywhere! I’ve read journal articles during dentists visits, and I once wrote a concept paper in a pig barn at a local fair while waiting for our turn to exhibit.

My kids are too little: MYTH

Ok, maybe that’s a truth. Maybe they are little. My ladies are 3 and 5. The good news is that your professors will never ask them to complete a project so their age and academic standing are irrelevant. And for many, you may find that this is the best time to be on this journey.

I know it has been for me and my girls. I’ll finish in time for them to enter public school and will have met my academic goals in time to help them reach theirs.

My message to parents is that your kids are watching you and they will emulate what you do. Having my daughter announce that she and Momma have some school work to do and being able to learn with her by my side has been my favorite part of the journey so far!

This probably won’t apply to my work: MYTH

I’m a special education teacher so the skills and strategies that go into developing individualized education plans and differentiating instruction is a niche market for sure. If you’ve ever sat through a professional development and cringed as you realized it had no applicability to your day-to-day, I feel for you!

This is not like that. My teaching is transforming every day! I am changing, meeting new people, learning new things and bringing incredible new opportunities to my students.

My favorite takeaway so far has been working with food and nutrition. Now, my students grow their own lettuce for our school cafeteria. It’s the first step in my doctoral research journey, and now, once a week, 750 kids get the chance to eat fresh produce that was grown seven feet from the cafeteria. That’s some impact there!

I’m not going to promise that this will be easy. I’m not going to promise that you won’t consume lots of coffee and sometimes forget to brush your hair. (If you’re like me, that was happening before college anyway.) If you’ve been waiting for a sign, a vision, a message—this is it! You can make higher education a reality in your life and work and raise a family and volunteer and still enjoy the adventures that life brings you. You just have to take that first step.

American College of Education offers a variety of graduate-level programs to fit the need of every educator at every career stage. Explore our master’s degrees and doctoral degrees in the field of education.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Amy Vaughan-Roland, Ed.D.
Amy Vaughan-Roland, Ed.D., Ed.D. in Leadership

Amy has a strong passion for educating all learners and has over 12 years of experience in special education. She works on her family's dairy farm and is currently a doctoral candidate.

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