Accessing Assistance on the Doctoral Journey by Tracy Wilson
This discussion will focus on my confidence level in coursework and dissertation. I will also talk about my apprehension regarding the comprehensive exam. Additionally, I will discuss my willingness to ask for help when necessary and the sources I will use to seek help.
The doctoral process presents challenges at every level. However, I am most confident with coursework, writing (discussion boards, papers, and dissertation), and residencies. The reason why I am confident in most of the coursework is because I was a distant learner at the University of North Dakota. The experience in graduate school taught me a great deal about expectations and time management.
Writing has always been easy for me, but I attribute that to wonderful high school teachers and undergraduate mentors who gave valuable feedback. During graduate school, writing requirements were rigorous. I have also practiced my writing skills in all of my jobs, especially child welfare. I was required to complete precise, clinical dictation to meet the State’s requirements. Teaching and fictional writing have also reinforced my writing skills.
I was required to complete an on-campus residency for my graduate program. I flew to Grand Forks, North Dakota for the last two weeks of my program. I enjoyed meeting my cohort group and the faculty. Traveling to a new place was an added perk. Therefore, I am looking forward to the residency requirements for Capella.
My comfort level for all of the aforementioned also comes from being able to work well independently. I use a weekly planner to stay on track with assignments. If I do not do this, I tend to run off the rails quickly. In addition, I work ahead in case any unforeseen issues come up.
The statistics courses and the comprehensive exam fill me with anxiety. As I have said before, I have significant weaknesses in math. My experience with statistics in graduate school was not positive. The instructor did not really teach us, so we had to navigate through the content individually or with our partner. Luckily, my partner and I complemented one another, and we survived the course.
The comprehensive exam sounds straight-forward, but I have heard stories of folks getting through their coursework, reaching the comps, and then failing the re-take. All of the sacrifice, time, effort, and money were for naught. As I have emphasized already, failure is not an option for me. I cannot justify going into debt for a program and then walking away empty-handed. Although I am comfortable with writing, the endless tales of tragedy surrounding the comp exam makes me very apprehensive.
Asking for Help
Self-sufficiency is an attribute, and I tend to be fairly self-reliant. I have been told that I am driven, and when I set my sights on something, I am relentless. Nonetheless, I know my limits. I have already asked for help in this course, and I will continue to do so. Reading Critical Thinking in Psychology (Ruscio, 2006) has only reinforced my willingness to seek out supportive services. I cannot use my personal beliefs, interpretations, and perceptions as a foundation in my field of study. Ruscio (2006) makes it clear that evidence must be provided when stating claims. Furthermore, I certainly do not know everything about Educational Psychology, which is why asking questions is and will continue to be imperative.
Sources of Help
In reviewing this unit’s studies, I found several useful tools. I have already utilized them. The first time I spoke with my enrollment advisor, I explained my concern about statistics. She told me about the Smarthinking option. I absolutely love it! I use it for the discussion boards and the assignments, but I know I will use it in future courses, too. An extra set of eyes helps catch things that I miss, and sometimes tutoring can clarify areas of confusion. I did not have any prior experience with such a supportive tool, but I am very impressed thus far.
Peers, advisors, facilitators, and faculty members serve as crucial sources of support. As I listened to the testimonials surrounding the residencies (Capella University, 2017a), I was encouraged and realized I would not have to walk this road alone. In addition, the tutorial about dissertations served as a great way to understand expectations, the process, and who would be available to provide assistance (Capella University, 2017a).
Fear of the unknown can often derail the most determined individuals. With this in mind, I listened to the presentation about the comprehensive exam (Capella University, 2017b). The explanation of time frames, expectations, and the overall process helped ease some of my anxiety. The comprehensive exam manual also provides some reassurance, and knowing that I will have individuals available to support me helps provide some reassurance (Capella University, 2016). Still, the prospect of not passing it frightens me.
The confidence level I have with coursework, writing, residencies, and time management will serve me well in this program. My apprehension about the statistics courses will probably be set to rest when I try to pass my first one. The same applies to the comprehensive exam. Until I reach that point, I will likely remain fearful. However, the tools offered by Capella provide a secure lifeline. Reviewing the various materials available in this unit has given me hope. The unit studies also provided answers to questions, making the doctoral path clearer.
Capella University. (2017a). Residencies: Your path to success . Retrieved from
Capella University. (2017b). Welcome to the comprehensive examination . Retrieved
Capella University. (2016, October). Capella University. Retreived from
Ruscio, J. (2006). Critical thinking in psychology: Separating sense from nonsense (2nd ed.).
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.