Coming Up for Air


Okay, so at 5:09 p.m. today, I clicked “send” and effectively kicked my journey to becoming Dr. Archie into high gear. I’m defending my dissertation proposal on August 15, and the first step is providing my committee with the first three chapters of my dissertation. With little fanfare, but admittedly with what I can only describe as adrenaline mixed with utter mental exhaustion, I e-mailed my 125-page manifesto to my committee this afternoon.

Next steps include defending my proposal before my committee in August, submitting the IRB paperwork for my data collection immediately afterwards, and then actually collecting the data in the fall. Then it’ll be data analysis and yet more writing in the winter. If all goes well, my hope is to actually wrap everything up by March next year. At least I’m hoping the process will be that uneventful. Ever since San Francisco (yes, it’s still up on the list), I’ve been powering through to get done with my program sooner rather than later.

I actually even changed my expected graduation date on Facebook to May 2009 instead of May 2010. If I can pull of becoming a doctor before I’m 30, I can check that off my list of life goals. Plus, all y’all will need to start calling me “doctor.”

But I’d be lying if I said that this whole process hasn’t taken a toll on me. Several weekends of cloistering myself at GW’s basement computer labs and weeknights of writing nonstop these past few weeks have left my brain mushy and hurting.  It’s also definitely made me markedly sillier and more random than I usually am.

I can see now how this process becomes intellectually draining to the point of loopiness; it’s not that it’s particularly hard work. It’s just involved work. And my usually analytic brain at one point did become hyperanalytic and eventually plunged me into the deep end of the pool. Or over the ledge. Or something like that. But then again, I think that’s the whole point of getting a doctorate.

On the plus side, wacky Archie definitely helps with the improv.

In any case, the burning question that y’all have, I’m sure, is: What’s your dissertation topic? Miraculously, I haven’t wandered far from when I originally blogged about it a year or so ago. I’m looking at the influence of external standards of institutional effectiveness (promulgated by accrediting agencies, state higher education agencies, and professional organizations) on program assessment in student affairs.

It’s going to change the world, I tell you.

And if you’re into self-abuse and/or in desperate need of something to put you to sleep, click here to download a copy of my dissertation proposal in Word format. One caveat, though: You can’t point out any typos or anything else wrong with it until after my defense on August 15.

I know that I will have invariably mistyped something (because it’s always something), so hold off on letting me know that I’ve been advocating for pubic policies related to higher education accountability until after my defense. 🙂


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