Am I crazy? So the truth is that I’ve been contemplating going back to grad school to get my Ph.D. for some time. I started the process nearly 50 years ago (I’m 73) and have been increasingly frustrated that I never finished what I started. It gnaws at me like a bad hangnail day after day. It’s been on my mind so much as of late ( and perhaps due to the pandemic), that last year I sat myself down in front of the computer and researched online programs that interest me in the field of organizational development and leadership, programs established in both business schools and schools of education.
My goal – it’s a bit vague – if I were truthful I’d say it was for personal fulfillment. But I’d also like to spend my time continuing to build and enhance a program that I helped develop at the University of Maryland (UMD) training leaders from the emerging markets in urban planning and development, finance and smart growth.
I plunged into the admission process, sending out 7 applications. Now I haven’t filled out an application like that in many, many moons. UGH! …21 letters of recommendation from friends and former co-workers, 23 personal statements and hours and hours contemplating what I want to do with this degree )primary question asked both orally and in writing by each and every school).
The end result was acceptance at all 7 schools ranging from NYU to Baylor to USC. USC is my school of choice. The Program is a joint program in the School of Business and the School of Education in the area of Organizational Development and Leadership – looking at new forms of organization and leadership styles for the 21st Century. Armed with this information I hope to make my program at UMD richer and more innovative.
USC’s program is 3 years long full time, both online and residency. Twenty four students were accepted out of a pool of 430. Average age of accepted students is 32….and then there’s me: 73. I like that. Being with younger people will be invigorating and thrust me into a pool of learners who are cutting edge.
Balancing pragmatism and intellectual interests is not an easy task for me since the two unfortunately don’t merge well. I have to make a decision within 2 weeks. Yes or No. I’m torn. It’s enormously expensive, time consuming, mostly on line and thus (I think) technically difficult. As many have counseled me: so you want to sit in a classroom with everyone more than half your age and with whom you share very little in common and frankly, Bruce, what’s it going to bring you in the final analysis?
I believe I know the answer and which way I’m leaning…Yes, I do want to sit in that classroom and no I don’t have a pat answer for what it will bring me: perhaps a bit of happiness, perhaps some fulfillment or perhaps a whole lot of frustration. Who knows? I have no idea!
They say college is wasted on the young! I’m about to disprove that old adage. After all, 73 is the new 53.
On a personal note my grand niece is a sophomore at UCLA and this just might cause a kind of wonderful, crazy family feud! UCLA vs. USC! Could be fun!
Bruce Purdy is a resident of Oxford, Maryland.