At the beginning of this year, I had a plan for preparing for my doctoral comprehensive exam: I was going to study on weekends (mostly by myself but also with a couple of friends), avoid Facebook (because it was more of a distraction than anything else), and most important: not get overwhelmed and stressed out. I stayed very focused and was able to follow my plan. Did I get tired, frustrated, a little overwhelmed, and anxious: absolutely! Did I allow those feelings to distract me: absolutely not!
Before the actual exam, we had a knowledge base preparation class between the spring and summer semester. We met on weekends and reviewed relevant topics and details with the professor. In addition, we had practice questions and had the opportunity to pair up during that preparation class to help each other out. I took the first part of the comprehensive exam on campus with all of my cohort members: we had 4 questions to answer, 2 hours allotted per question with a 1-hour break. We slammed it out one Saturday in the computer lab! It was intense and I was terribly sick, probably with bronchitis, but all I know is that I don’t remember much of what actually took place that day. The other part of the exam was a take-home exam. We had 2 weeks to answer 4 questions. I know…..I know…..it sounds so easy right? Just 8 questions to answer and half of them were take home! Wrong! You are so wrong if you think that.
These questions were complicated and in order to pass you had to demonstrate that you were knowledgeable in the 8 core areas of CACREP and that you knew how to apply your knowledge to situations relevant to counselor education. Also, you need to pass 5 out of the 8 questions. In that case, the questions you didn’t pass, they are considered as deficiencies and you work with your dissertation chair to figure out how you will re-take the questions you failed. If you were deficient in more than 3 questions, you cannot pass the comprehensive exam. Remember, these questions are not like a short answer type thing, more like journal-article-type writing. The pressure was really on for the take home exams because we had more time and access to resources, so they expected high-quality work! After a few anxiety provoking weeks we received our results and I passed my comprehensive exam with no deficiencies! I am officially a Ph.D. Candidate! Yay me!!!!
After comps…comes the dissertation. Luckily for me, I have a super-fantastic dissertation chair/mentor! He helped me to prepare my prospectus and get all university-related documents ready and submitted so as soon as I got my comps results I could do my prospectus defense. Mission accomplished!
This semester, I am taking two classes and conducting my dissertation study (I’ll have a post about it soon). Because I am who I am, that’s not enough for me ha! So I am also working on editing a manuscript, co-authoring a book chapter, attending conferences (and presenting), and also job search! Yikes! Lots more to come on those fun activities!
I expect to have a fun, productive, and engaging 3rd year in this Ph.D. program!
“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”
― Herman Melville