The beginning of the end…

….followed by another beginning.

Today marks the beginning of my last doctoral class. It’s been a long haul: eleven courses in all, 44 semester hours, nonstop through weekends, musical and dinner theater rehearsals and performances, weddings and the birth of a grandchild, holidays and summer break, since January of 2007. I’m glad this is the last one, but by no means is it the end. And I’m not talking about writing the dissertation (which I’m actually looking forward to).

Unlike many degree programs, this doctorate doesn’t end by way of completing classes and graduating. If only…

Rather, it ends with my taking three huge exams. If I pass, I collect (or, more likely, pay) my $200 and advance to the residency stage, where I will defend my dissertation proposal to a panel of professors. If I don’t pass, I can test again for a total of three times. If I don’t pass after the third round, it’s sayonara. Do a curriculum project and we’ll give you a second masters degree. Nice knowing you. Have a nice life. Thanks for the fifty grand, and please go away now.

That’s a bit unnerving for me. My family and friends, who are wonderful and very supportive, have all assured me that I will pass the Qualifying Exams I will take in the spring. But, as I’ve told them, other (and very smart) people have tried and failed. It’s an exceptionally difficult program to get through. Out of the last group of 70 students who took the QEs, only 7 passed. That’s an eight percent pass rate.

Things don’t look good for the home team.

I’m not trying to be all doom-and-gloom and woe-is-me, but I am trying to be realistic. If a Tanglewood scholar can’t pass, what are the chances for a jazz and rock and roll singer? I have no answers. I don’t know…it’s good for me to “verbalize” my fears, I suppose. Maybe the planets will align properly on testing day and I’ll be magnificent. Maybe I’ll go down in flames. No way to tell. I can only prepare and do my best.

But if the worst does happen, I’m not going to just fall on my sword. I will keep fighting the fight (although what that means, I’m not entirely sure). I know that there are many more important things in life than having “Dr.” in front of your name. And I’ve learned a ton of great stuff in this journey. It will undoubtedly help me in the future, whatever that will be, no matter what the test grades are.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Fink out.

4 thoughts on “The beginning of the end…

  1. P.K. Pudlin

    When I started this journey, I had people say – You’re 48 years old – by the time you graduate you’ll be in your 50s. Why do you want to do this now? But the point is not the letters at the end of your name – I already got plenty of them and I’m sure you do too. The point is not the destination. It’s the journey itself. Sit back and enjoy the view, my friend. Godspeed.

  2. Rat Fink Post author

    Yep, Mathew – I downloaded it, but haven’t installed it yet. Need a decent block of time to play around with it this weekend…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.