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Pondering a Return to School: Why Would I Want a Doctorate?

I have a Bachelor’s in International Business with a concentration in Marketing and a Minor in Professional Writing. One class shy of a second minor in Spanish. Years later, I pursued a Master’s in Psychology just because I could and I always loved the subject (I changed it for one semester in college, actually, but went back to I.B. after I found out I wouldn’t be able to study abroad with psychology). Then I went ahead and became certified as a life coach.

Dare I say that a love of school is just naturally in my blood?

Academics have always been a strong point of mine. And it’s not just being able to score high on tests or earn 4.0 GPAs or graduate among the top 10 students in my high school class. Gosh, that sounds like bragging—but I don’t mean it that way. There’s actually very little that I have confidence about in my life, but my intellectual capacity and output is one of them. I’m pretty proud to be a smarty pants.

Many people don’t know this about me—in fact, as I graduated from high school, many peers were stunned that I was so high at the top because they thought I was a complete ditz. Well played, Jenny; masking your nerdiness behind a blonde bubbly persona kept you from being a complete outcast (just a 90% one).

I’ve played this hide and seek game my whole life it seems. Dumbing myself down so that others don’t feel bad or that I don’t pigeon-hole myself into an egghead reputation. I’ve even done it at work to an extent. Oh, they know I have intelligence, evidenced by the fact that I’ve managed to contribute to almost every aspect of the company over the last 26 years—except accounting.

It’s my best kept secret. (Well, guess it isn’t anymore!)

As I took on more responsibilities, and showed the diversity of my abilities, my workload and expectations became overwhelming. So, I consciously decided one day when they asked me to look over financials that I’d tell them math was not my strong suit. “You don’t want me doing financials,” I’d claim. And they bought it.

Truth be told, math is one of my best subjects—I might dare say it might be even stronger than my English. Not only was I in accelerated math courses (not English, ironically enough), I was a member of the math Olympiads. If you don’t know what that is, it’s like the Mathletes from Mean Girls. Yup—I totally geeked out on solving complicated math problems.

I might have even been able to figure out that sarcastic math problem “If you have 4 pencils and I have 7 apples, how many pancakes will fit on the roof?” Okay, maybe not, but I thrived on the challenge of trying to decipher numeric riddles.

Wow, did that take off on a tangent. Anyway… moving back towards my quest for a doctorate.

There are a number of reasons I have come up with as to why my heart wants to pursue this path, none of which make much logical sense to a “normal” person:

  1. I am a perpetual student. I miss going to class and having homework—especially written assignments. I love to learn; I would literally go to school for the rest of my life if I could afford it or have the time.

  2. I’m affectionately known as a "doctor" already. Old-time co-workers still call me Dr. Watson to this day because of my ability to make anything happen. One person called me it once at a meeting, causing a company owner to like and adopt the nickname, and soon it caught on across the company. It makes me smile just thinking about it. And while my last name is now Dee, it feels like the “Dr.” has always been some kind of honorary part of me already. So, I think it would be really cool to turn the honorary into a reality. Dr. Dee definitely has a ring to it!

  3. I could use an ego boost. Life has been a little rough lately, but like I mentioned, academics has always been an easier road for me. That’s not to say it’s not challenging, because it absolutely is. What I mean is that it’s in my comfort zone; I understand the stress and expectations and already know how to manage it and thrive under that kind of pressure. I got my Master’s when I was newly divorced as a single mom holding down a fulltime job and volunteering on an astrology website. Something tells me, I’d master the schedule this time around as an almost empty-nester.

  4. I’m bored. I’m tired of reading without a purpose other than enjoyment. I have a decent social life, but no partner, and kids who are out living their best lives without me now. Which is great for them, but leaves me with this time on my hands, even with two jobs, that I’m not quite sure what to do with yet. And I don’t want to waste it on TV. I’m not ready to tackle my secret hobby wish to dance or to brave the stage as an actress right now.

I told you that none of these would make much sense. It has nothing to do with a desire to be a licensed psychologist, though that’s what I’d end up working towards. It’s not career driven in the least.

So, what made returning for a doctorate degree pop up on my radar?

Oh, you know, it was my bestie who inspired me. She’s going back for hers, and I was so excited for her. And she’s going to have it by the time we turn 50, so we’ll be celebrating that and our mid-century birthdays with a cruise around Greece.

Is it because I am competing with her? Do I need to get it because she is getting it? Absolutely not. It’s actually something I’ve thought about for years but never gave much credence to. In fact, as I was in my Master’s program, I was offered the opportunity to do a bridge program that would have shortened the doctoral program by combining the degrees.

I wanted to say yes—I was ready to say yes. But, there was this stipulation about a week each semester where I would have to travel for residency training, and with two little ones at the time, finding someone willing to take them for such a length of time was challenging. It felt selfish, and so I passed on the idea and thought, well maybe one day, I’ll do it.

I feel like that one day has arrived.

I don’t know honestly how I would pull it off—financially or timewise. I’d probably get good loans (perfect timing after I have only 6 months left on my masters degree loans lol). I do have to consider I’m about to have another college-bound child, and he’s got big dreams to be funded—and only me to help him fund them.

As far as the scheduling, I’ve juggled before, and these online programs are so convenient for me. I’m sure I’d manage to strike the right balance. I can write a mile a minute, so homework doesn’t take all that long and I only have to chat instead of interact with classmates. I actually like writing long papers; doing the research, making assessments, and then bringing it all together. I haven’t made the decision to commit yet, but it’s out there now—a possibility.

So, I guess there is only one thing left to do: throw this rocket of desire into my vortex and see what the universe does to bring it about.

Maybe before long, I’ll be writing books under Dr. Jenny Dee and taking stages to help people around the world. A girl can certainly dream, can’t she?

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