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Doing the Doctoral Student Juggling Act

It is that time of year where working adults are realizing their dream to attend graduate school. Once the letter of acceptance arrives, the reality of figuring out how to manage the added responsibilities of attending classes, writing papers and reading, reading, and more reading sets in and they ask themselves: How am I going to do this? Two current Ed. D students in Education Administration and Leadership who are progressing through their coursework answered just that question: How do you do it? Let me introduce them to you, Debi Bukko is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction in a local school district. Parrish Geary is the Counseling Supervisor for a Community College. Both are working parents with full social lives outside of work and school and both are making continuous progress towards earning their Educational Doctorates in Educational Administration and Leadership.

Parrish began his graduate studies in August of 2010. He takes two classes per semester and plans to complete his coursework in the Fall of 2013. Debi began her doctoral courses in Summer 2011 and plans to complete her coursework in Summer 2013. Both aim to defend their dissertations in the Spring of 2014. Returning to our original question, how are they juggling school, work and a personal life? Here are their keys: time management and motivation.

Time management

Debi says organizing her time is the key to managing her busy schedule. She uses one electronic calendar to show all of her responsibilities for home, work and school. In this way she can visualize all her responsibilities and arrange her time accordingly. Of course she also says there are a lot of late nights and early mornings necessary for her to have quiet time to read and work on her assignments. Parrish focuses on one assignment at a time and plans his schedule a week in advance setting aside one hour a day to work on assignments. He breaks his assignments down into one hour chunks and schedules each chunk into his calendar. Scheduling a week in advance allows him to negotiate timelines and fit everything in.


Time management is key to maintaining momentum and completing assignments, but both Debi and Parrish share that it gets tough sometimes and in those times, Parrish reminds himself that "That this degree is not just for me" that his success will have a ripple effect,  impacting his broader community. This thought keeps him motivated. Debi looks to her family for motivation, her partner and their 17 and 21 year old children encourage her to take the quiet time she needs to get her work done and keep on moving.

Great advice

Now in the final stretch of their coursework, Debi and Parrish have some great advice for those considering or continuing their Ed. D here at Pacific.

Debi shares:
1.       Have confidence in the fact that Pacific professors are committed to helping students be successful.
2.       Invest yourself fully in the program and connect with peers for academic and personal support.
3.       Set specific short and long term goals to keep oriented.
4.       Celebrate successes along the way.

Parrish says:
1.       Approach each assignment with the intention of connecting it to your dissertation.
2.       At times things may seem challenging but every time you show up it gets better.
3.       Leave any bad assignments or class experiences in the past. Not everything will be perfect.
4.       You don't know all the answers. Read as much as you can.
5.       Your professors will be your peers. Accept their input and don't take it personally.

So, brush up on your time management skills, identify your support system and your means of motivation and dive in to the next step in your educational journey.