The Job Market: What People Are Saying

So I’ve been checking out the PhD support boards, of which you are hopefully a member … if not, join already at, and connect with people on our journey.  I was curious about the post with the greatest number of views and replies.

By far, and I mean, by tenfold in many cases, it was about the job market.  The post is up and is titled, “Has the market changed so much, or did I have the wrong idea in the first place?”  My gut reaction to this title is that the author had the wrong idea in the first place if what she would like to do is teach college students.  Before I clicked on the post, I did not know if that was her plan, but my impression is that many people working on this degree are looking to teach college students.

The reason I believe this is that, while there may be many positions in faculty teaching, when I look closely, the degree or background required can be rather specialized.  For example, there is a posting now in my city’s major university for an instructor in nanomaterials.  If you have a more general degree, there may be more demand, but also much more supply.  In addition, a large percentage of teaching positions in post-secondary schools are awarded to adjunct instructors who often hold a Master’s degree only.

However, the thread of the discussion turned out to be the hiring practices of universities and failure to conduct a nationwide search for many positions.  People are working hard to be the top candidate, but in several cases a Dean’s favorite or someone’s spouse has the open position.  So there is a pool of resentment and disgruntled, temporary lecturers.  If you are in that boat, you have company.

Either way, feel free to share your story here.  Of course, anonymously!  I have been in this situation personally, but it was at a private university, so the same rules are not in place.  For me, the best thing is to have support in the teaching role itself because I tend toward optimism in future opportunities, wherever they may fall.

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Dissertation Communication: The Committee

In this day and age of online education, I am curious lately about how members of the dissertation committee communicate with one another. I am working on the dissertation portion of my degree online, and my Chair has changed more than once, as have the Member(s) of the reading committee.

My Chair is very friendly and has shared with me that he lives in two different areas of the country during different times of the year. I stalked one of the readers online, and she lives in neither place, so I don’t presume they fly to a mutually agreed upon destination to discuss my paper in person.

This leaves email, the telephone, or some type of Google hangout situation. I am eliminating texting about a dissertation. No matter what the type of communication, I am also curious as to whether it is a formative or summative assessment of the work from each party. My impression is that the assessment from one reader to the next is summative, meaning that the work is “complete” for the next reader.

The collaboration takes place after the submission, or assessment.

I don’t know if a formative assessment would be better for these purposes; there is always a case to be made for all types of assessment-centered learning. I’ll let you consult your ProQuest on that. However, I once got a job offer because a principal asked me how often I assess students, and I replied, “Every day.”

These are my own reflections. I will tell you that the Google window box revealed limited information on this topic. The process is collaborative and cooperative between student and faculty across several websites. One school’s job description indicated the Chair was the conduit between the learner and the Committee. It also revealed that some schools allow students to select members of their Committee. This would be harder in an online environment without knowing the professors as well.

Multiple areas of expertise help the student and the school. I still would like to know how Committees around the country communicate.

Anyone willing to share?

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Dissertations of the Influential

Many thanks to Kyara Tobias for reaching out and sharing her excellent info graphic and in-depth research on dissertations of the influential.  Check out her site and other work she has done at Online PhD programs.  I was most interested in the plight of the adjunct, which may be a future topic here.


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Eleven Dissertation Editors: Who They Are and How to Reach Them

If you need help with formatting and APA, you may be advised to contact an editor.  Some editors will help with writing, but this post is about editors who are recommended by a group of doctoral committee members, many who have eagle eyes for the finer points of APA.  It is not the “official” recommendation of any person or school.

I am trying for a future interview post with one of these editors for recommendations to students, but my recommendation is to get on the radar as early as possible and build a good relationship.  Your editor is a crucial element in your progress, and you will learn loads… even if it is about APA!

Use your personal email to contact editors, and ask for an estimate of cost and time as early as possible.  They are in high demand, so several weeks is not unusual.  Also ask for a record of success and time to get through final format review process at your particular school, especially if a particular style is required in addition to APA.

  1. Mike Agresta can edit Spanish and can be reached at
  2. William Andersen has a background teaching AP English.  He can be reached at
  3. Claudia Bennett Sheets, EdD has a company called Focused Educational Design and provides full service dissertation editing.  She can be reached at
  4.  Nancy Chamberlain can be reached at
  5.  Ellen Compton-Tejera can be reached at
  6.  Jennifer Ellen Cook can be reached at  Reach out well in advance, as she is booked very heavily.
  7.  Gail Giordano can be reached at
  8.  Lorraine Maslow has written an APA guide for students that she willingly shares.  She can be reached at
  9. Sherilyn Newell is known for format specialization and can be reached at
  10. Susan Topoleski has an education background and a website at She can be reached at
  11. Barbara Welch can be reached at


Good luck!

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Meditation and the Dissertation

Whether you are selecting a topic or fighting through the labyrinth of final approvals, chances are you can improve your state of mind be a greater feeling of calm.  I have written before about “Dissertation Zen”, but not about the idea of how meditation can fit in to this mindset. Dissertation Meditation

I quit in the midst of my dissertation because I did not have Dissertation Zen.  However, upon my return three years later and now near completion, I learned this worldview is the only way to go.  I got there the hard way, which included a lot of blaming, whining, and tears.  Now, when something does not go according to a script in my mind, I simply notice and continue.

I have noticed that other people have achieved this attitude without hitting the emotional rock bottom, and when I read this article by Silicon Valley Meditation Teacher Kim Nicol, I wished I had meditated more often during my writing process.  I would have avoided so much dissertation drama and maybe not even have quit.

Meditation gives you practice in observing your breath and the sounds around you, but you have to sit still.  It sounds excruciating, but worth a try.  The way this connects to writing the dissertation is that a dissertation (to me) sounds excruciating, but worth a try.  It also requires sitting still. What I notice is that staying calm helps you keep going.

Queen Elizabeth advised England to “Keep calm and carry on” during World War II.  Meditation practice lets you do that for a few minutes every day until your habit is keeping calm.

We absorb so much research and information from our courses that it is difficult to synthesize or even reasonably access it when we are distracted by what is in our brains.  Meditation allows you to clear the clutter and let the ideas and logic flow from within after the brain is on “full.”  There is a science behind why it will make you a better writer.

Give it a try.  You can easily access this free 4-minute guided meditation by Silicon Valley Meditation Teacher at


Let me know if it works for you or if you are already onto this trick of the trade.

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The Dissertation Disease

The sitting disease is a hot topic that I thought was new.  It is a disease I may be developing after enough time now at the computer researching and writing for all this coursework and a nearly complete (what what!) dissertation.  Sitting has been the least of my problem for years now, and suddenly it is in the newspaper and my TIME magazine that sitting will kill more people than obesity and smoking.


I Googled the “new” sitting disease. (No, I did not use the library database.)  One of the first articles I found was from 1961.  It is a lengthy article from The Atlantic warning  that we are sitting ourselves to death. My favorite part is where the author discusses our patriotic duty to be physically fit.



Standing Desk on a Budget

Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic wrote the new book, “Get Up!”, and proclaims we lose two hours of life for every hour we sit.  He threatens “sitting is the new smoking.”   His studies show that 2 hours and 15 minutes per day of movement make the difference between developing or not developing this dreaded disease that is killing more people than HIV. Note that the 2 hours and 15 minutes does not have to be hard core exercising; it can be simple standing, walking, or any every day chore.


Both articles recommend the following, albeit over fifty years apart:

  1. Make standing the default position in your life.  Ideas here are to keep a glass of water on your desk so you have to get up and move to refill it, have meetings while standing, and take phone calls while standing.
  2. Take walks after meals.
  3. Exercise daily.
  4. Get a stand up desk.  These can run into the thousands of dollars.  Do it my way, the cheap student way, and stack your keyboard on a couple of books…. on the ironing board.  Also, you won’t have to iron.   I am standing from my desk now,  having moved my old desk to the side for my papers and books.  It’s kind of hard to get used to, but get a microfiber bathmat to stand on and you will avoid back pain and the sitting disease.  You can always use a stool if you get tired.  Don’t order the office standing mat because they are not as comfortable and far more expensive than the bathmat.  Happy standing and writing.
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Recent Graduation Reflections

Two weeks ago, I spoke to a leader in education who decided to hold off on pursuing a doctoral degree.  Today, Dr. Jordan Rodriguez discusses his recent achievement earning a Doctorate in Educational Leadership.  Dr. Rodriguez is Assistant Principal at a suburban high school in Central Florida with over fifteen years experience leading education and athletics.JordanRodriguez


1.  What motivated you to pursue a doctorate? I was motivated to earn my doctorate on multiple levels. I have a constant thirst to acquire new knowledge and share that knowledge. Earning the doctorate degree would also open the door to potentially teach at the collegiate level some day. Moreover, by earning the doctorate degree I became the first person in my family to do so.


2.  How does a doctorate fit in to your career in K-12 public education? Although by no means a requirement for my occupation as an assistant principal, the program allowed me to collaborate with individuals from neighboring school districts. The relationships I developed with the members of my cohort have served the district and me well by sharing knowledge, experiences, and resources. Another key benefit of the doctorate was the extensive training I received in being able to intelligently assess educational research. As a school leader, I look to bring expertise to my campus in an effort to ensure our students and instructors are given the best opportunity in which to succeed through the use of highly effective practices.


3.  Did you do your work online, blended, or on campus?  What were the advantages and disadvantages of your decision here?  My doctoral program was a traditional face-to-face model. My classes took place on the UCF campus. I would highly recommend this approach when advising someone who was interested in pursuing a doctorate degree. The relationships you develop with your professors and classmates just do not develop in the same way when working in an online degree. I see the merit in an online program if you are looking for efficiency, but I think the scale tips significantly to the advantage of the traditional program if you are interested in lasting relationships that could help you down the road.


4.  How are you using your work and research in your career? I utilize my ability to discern what is credible research and what is not on a daily basis. Moreover, through my research, I was exposed to a variety of reputable researchers who I have continued to follow. I often share the work of these experts in the field of educational research with the instructors I supervise, as well as my administrative colleagues.


5.  What 3 tips would you give to students considering or in the midst of doctoral work? Stay positive. Stay calm. Find a balance between your academic life, personal life, and professional life.


6.  What was the most challenging portion of your work? Writing a dissertation is no joke. You have to go in to the process understanding that you are going to sacrifice nights, weekends, and family events for a little while. There is still time for fun and relaxation, but you have to make a deliberate effort to find balance.


7.  What was the most rewarding portion of your work? When you complete the degree, you realize that you are part of a very exclusive club. A very small percentage of the U.S. population holds a doctoral degree. When you see the pride on the faces of your family and friends, it will bring a smile to your face.


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Dissertation Depression: 5 Pitfalls

As I sit down to write about this journey, photos of Robin Williams are all over my news feed.  I am curious about depression and how this hits people in the dissertation phase of life.  A search for “dissertation depression” revealed quickly that too many people are feeling despair.  There is even a Facebook page by this name.


Here is a summary of what I found on how people respond to the dissertation process sometimes – totally normal people!  Depression is real and so are habits that lead to feeling like depression.  Of course, it can be hard to discern sometimes what level of misery is appropriate for those of us writing the dissertation, but some recurring themes that came across definitely struck a chord with me.


Feeling Stuck:  It is easy to feel stuck and have a hard time pinpointing what the problem is that can be solved to move forward. Just determining one or more challenges and how to over come them in a reasonable manner is overwhelming and can lead to the next depressing dissertation reaction.


Avoidance:  The task is too big, and people feel guilt, anger, or shame for not working.  The longer it goes on (the avoidance), the worse the feeling.


Circumstantial Anger:  Obstacles that hold you back that are within your control, not within your control, within your school, or outside of your school can greatly impact the goal-oriented person who is pursuing a doctoral degree.


Existential Crises:  Fear of failure, fear of success, and completion anxiety all apply to the dissertation process for many people.  The Internet is filled with stories of people who don’t have the dream job after finishing, kind of that Emerson journey/destination theme, but the opposite.


Mental Fatigue:  People feel physically tired after researching and writing.  It seems to be a better gig than working in the coal mines, and this case can certainly be made.  In fact, however, the brain boot camp of the dissertation causes mental fatigue that results in levels of high stress and emotion.

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Let’s Meetup and talk about your dissertation!

I’m attending a Meetup with Orlando Area Dissertation Support Group

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A Doctorate: One High School Principal’s Perspective

Kenny Bevan is Principal at Journeys Academy, a district wide alternative school for grades 6-12 located in Central Florida.  He is a former elementary teacher with a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership.  He is also a former Dean of Students and Assistant Principal of high school students. Kenny


1. What opportunities do you consider when you think of getting a doctorate?


When considering a doctorate, I think of the opportunity to teach at the university level one day.


2. Same question, but consider barriers not opportunities.


When considering a doctorate, barriers I see are time and money. I am not willing to spend more time away from my wife and two young sons.


3. From your point of view, how important is a doctorate in getting promoted in the public high school setting?


Having a doctorate in the public high school is not a major consideration for professional promotion in the public high school setting. It is helpful, however not nearly as much as results from instructional and administrative leadership practices that impact the school.


4. Who benefits most from a doctorate — teachers, students, or administrators?


I believe teachers, students, and administrators benefit from a doctorate.  Ultimately, our goal is to create a space for all students to achieve knowledge and skills for productivity.  Teachers and administrators pass on the expertise to create that space and ultimately improve each student’s learning experience.


5.   With a young family, it sounds like now is not the prime time to begin a doctoral program.  What would have to be in place for you to decide to become Dr. Bevan?


I’d like the kids to be older before I could dedicate more time to a program of study.  Next, I’d like to really think carefully about how I could best impact my area of interest with the right program of study.  I’d like to choose the school and path that would benefit the students and administrative team I work for, so having a few years to consider where my district’s needs and my passion intersect would be great.

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