Contemplating the Next Education Milestone

For those who know me at all, you know how much I believe in serendipity and the beauty and wonderment that follows. Several times in the past few weeks, I’ve come across accidentals in teaching and writing that suggest the time has come to take the last big plunge and pursue my doctorate in Education, specifically in the teaching of writing.

This is still in the exploration stage, to say the least. But the truth is, for nearly all university positions that I *feel* qualified to apply for, I am not an eligible candidate because the MFA is not recognized as a degree that is equal in stature to the Ph.D. or Ed.D. There’s no misleading, no wrongful expectations here. The MFA has been a blessing in ways I never imagined; to land a full-time, tenure-track faculty position at an established University, however, I need to secure that doctorate.

Questions abound. Will my age upon graduating (50 or 51) make me an unlikely candidate for these positions anyway? Would I be better off spending the money on publishing my ideas, theories, and strategies in writing and let that be my “University” standing?

I’m not in my late twenties or early thirties anymore where it would have been a no-brainer. That was the attitude I had at Goucher when working on my MFA. At this point in my life, though, I wonder if I’m doing this more for me or more for the chance to teach and write full-time at the university level. If the chance is slim to none to land a job in my early fifties, then why even bother?

Money, of course, is a huge issue. And I just learned that the program I am most interested in at the University of Maryland is now suspended indefinitely. Would I feel comfortable earning a doctorate from another university, perhaps even online, such as Strayer, Walden, or Phoenix? And–if I do go that route, how reputable are those online institutions when being considered for a faculty position?

Remaining in secondary education is not a bad thing. I love my job, and I love the students and faculty I work with. I’m blessed to be with so many people who care about education and about learning–and in a school system that really treats us like professionals. It’s just that I feel like it’s time to be immersed in a more academic setting, where research, collaboration, and publishing are just as much the focus as teaching.

Much to consider. Feel free to share your thoughts and your experiences. What would you do, or what have you already done?

One thought on “Contemplating the Next Education Milestone

  1. Hey Mr. VW!

    Long time no see :-). I’m sorry I have never seen your blog before either, but I just happened across this post.

    Although I’m still young and idealistic, I thought you may appreciate a youthful perspective ;-).

    Unfortunately, I know little about University hiring practices, what programs are well respected, or which are most affordable. However, I can’t help but think that this pursuit is about more than that, as it should be. You say yourself,

    “It’s just that I feel like it’s time to be immersed in a more academic setting, where research, collaboration, and publishing are just as much the focus as teaching.”

    That to me signifies an intellectual curiosity and a hunger that can’t be reasoned out of and that won’t be satiated until you go for it.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that while you will always be able to find reasons not to do it, I think that your desires/interests/happiness are much more important and permanent factors and are what should be listened to.

    Anyways, I wish you the best of luck and I plan on following your journey, wherever it takes you!


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