I recently passed the defense of my dissertation on change within education and earned a PhD in Curriculum & Instruction after 3 ½ years of hard work, sacrifice, and determination.

Upon completing the PhD, I’ve reflected on the things I learned and what I can take away and apply to life post-PhD program. I have learned how to read and think more critically, develop a thesis and provide credible and recent research to support it, and write more clearly and with purpose. Although these skills are valuable in of themselves, I do not think they are the most valuable take-aways from the PhD program.

Completing a PhD program requires tremendous determination, commitment and follow-through. Without these many PhD students never complete the program and go on to earn a PhD. There were many weekend days I would have rather been on a hike or playing at the beach, but I had to spend hours on end in front of my computer screen writing. The practice of determination, commitment, and follow-through are skills that can be applied to all areas of my life moving forward.

Similar to a student working towards a high school diploma, he/she learns a lot about essay writing and quadratic equations throughout their four years of high school, which they may use at points in their lives. What they will most definitely use after graduating from high school is the perseverance and determination that was required to get through high school and graduate. Like me, I’m sure there are many days that high school students would rather be out playing and yet instead, need to get their homework done. This commitment will help them in all aspects of their lives.

Most great accomplishments require tenacity and hard work. Earning a PhD and even a high school diploma are two examples of those accomplishments. I have learned a lot about change within education and writing a dissertation, but most importantly, I have learned about the determination and commitment required to do so.