The PhD Chronicles: So Starts The Third Semester

So here I am, the start of my 3rd semester as a PhD program.  I've got 4 courses under me and feel like I am pretty sure I know what I'm doing and feeling pretty confident I will complete this thing (albeit, eventually).  I had my bouts of doubt last semester as I grappled with feeling inundate with a great mixture of emotions (for a reminder, check out posts 8, 9, and 10 in this series!).  


Word cloud for this blog post.
While in some ways I feel psyched for this semester, I am still getting my bearings because January has been a crazy month.  I've been working through a cold for nearly four weeks now and it finally seems like it's on its way out, but it's left me not nearly as active (both physically and mentally) as I would have liked.  Additionally, the policy for educational leave was changed at work and that left me scrambling to deal with less time to do course work and just life in general.  I feel I can tackle the semester, but I'm also leery of the changes between this semester and last.

But as I look at the challenge ahead, there are some advantages present that I believe will carry me through.  The first is that this is the first semester where we have a professor whom we have had before.  There is comfort in knowing the style, approach and dynamics with a given professor as it helps planning and strategizing throughout the semester.  Additionally, the two courses, Policy in Higher Education and Organizational Structure in Higher Education have some clear overlaps, so I think there will be strong opportunities for synergy, whereas in the previous courses, they started in very different places, though often overlapped by the end of the course.  


A bittersweetness pervaded the return today.  This semester, we are three short of what we started with in the fall.  The cohort which started at 12, went up to 13 in the fall and is now 10 at the start of this semester.  Added to that, one of us couldn't be there today.  The absence was felt.  The loss of two members hit all of us in different ways, but for me, it was interesting how much smaller we felt as a cohort now with the nine of us there.  Beyond that, the loss of the two members who were such great people in terms of their contributions to the cohort was sad.  I know they made the right choices for them, but I certainly feel their absence.  In their absence, there seems for some a sigh of relief and a reaffirmation from the rest of us to be committed to this until the end.


Want to catch up on my previous reflections about being in a PhD program?  Check them out:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Orientation
  3. Day 1
  4. Week 1
  5. First 2 Courses Completed
  6. First 2 Courses Finished
  7. Semester 2, Here We Go
  8. The Existential Crisis of the Week
  9. The Balancing Act
  10. Negotiating Privilege in Higher Education
  11. Zeroing in on Research
  12. Completing the Second Semester
  13. Dissertation Journal #1



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