I recently made the decision to begin a doctoral program through ASU. Earnign a doctorate has been a goal of mine for a number of years, but I always found reasons why the timing to start a program was just not right – new job responsibilities, young kids, cost, time, etc. But, as many mentors in my life told me, “There will never be a perfect time,” so I took the plunge beginning last summer and what a journey it has been thus far.
I recall my first day of class last summer for our introductory course. One word sums up my feelings that day – defeated. First, I, along with my fellow students I was meeting for the first time, were locked out of the building where the classroom was scheduled. Obviously, being locked out does not make you feel very welcome?!? Second, our new professor began class asking us to refer to the responses that were due today. Well, my heart sank as I had no idea what she was talking about but noticed many of my new classmates did. I realized I made the mistake of not logging into Blackboard at the start of the week to review any assignments that were due for the first class. So, in just thirty minutes, I found myself locked out of the classroom and already behind in assignments – let’s just say my confidence was a bit shaken.
I share this story for one main reason – becoming a student once again has helped me to better understand our students’ experiences and feelings. I am currently doing well in the program (knock on wood), but I experience many frustrations with unclear assignments, bureaucratic hurdles, time management, and even at times, my own motivation. Our students of course experience these same challenges, and most definitely, even greater challenges than mine. But, returning to school has allowed me to experience what it is like to be a student again. And, these experiences help me in my job to work with others across the college to better support our students. Being a student is not easy. Hopefully, we continue to develop support programs and services and create welcoming classroom environments that alleviate students’ fears and anxieties. Or at least, hopefully we don’t lock them out on day one!