Monday, August 13, 2012

Higher Education and the Military Spouse

Every few months, I toy with applying to a PhD program. Having those three letters behind my name has been a personal goal since as far back as I can remember, but in more recent years, it's held less... appeal. PhDs are good for researching and teaching, and I'd probably much rather teach than research, but after working for a university, I have found I have little taste for the politics that go with such a career tract. But then I think back to my time in writing programs. I will always regret not sticking to creative writing for my master's degree, and I will probably always wonder why I didn't pursue a creative writing undergraduate degree. Because I really learned so much in those programs, and they were some of the most fun I ever had.

I could do that on a daily basis and be happy, I think; workshops and writing exercises and thinking creatively. I could do that. But there are so many reasons for not going after it:

I can write without a PhD. I can write without my M.A. and I can write without my B.S. I don't need any of those degrees to be a writer, though I am sure they contribute greatly to my craft. All I have to be is a great writer (and an even better query-letter author).


There are very few Creative Writing PhD programs.


There are even fewer Creative Writing PhD programs even remotely close to Army installations. As in: one (on a good day).

Number three? Yeah, that's a huge issue. It's really difficult to pursue a degree when you can't physically be there to pursue it. And the U.S.? Not so much with the distance learning PhD programs, either. Or even reputable universities who offer distance learning to graduate students. Period.

My Ga Tech graduation in 2008
My M.A. graduation in 2010 (that's my boss shaking my hand)
As a military spouse, I feel I am inundated with "higher education" opportunities in all aspects of life: email, Internet, on post, everywhere. Would I like higher education opportunities? Hell yes! Are any of them geared towards the military spouse who has already been awarded a Bachelor Degree or higher? Um... Not so much. Are any of the geared towards a military spouse who is married to an officer? Hell no. I very much appreciate all of the hard work and focus that has gone to educate military spouses... I just wish someone would recognize that there are some of us that don't fit into the "bubble."

I think some reputable U.S. universities could really take advantage of an untapped demographic if they marketed a hybrid/distance-learning program to military spouses who are looking to complete a master's degree or higher. It's possible to do--I've found several in the United Kingdom that would suit my needs (and are actually more affordable than a required-residency program here in the U.S... No, I don't get how it's cheaper to be an international student, either). The University of Lancaster and the University of Birmingham (Birmingham 1.0, that is) both offer distance learning PhD programs in Creative Writing.

Am I considering one?

Maybe. We'll see how number one works out for me. And what kind of funding I can get... Cause this having 2 degrees and no college loans whatsoever? Totally working for me.

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