Join | Login


Laura Bogardus

Clemson University


Space In-between

Category: PhD Confessions
Author: Laura S. Bogardus, Clemson University, Department of Youth, Family and Community Studies
Keywords: academic, practitioner, education, decision-making (tough to find key words for this article!)

The decision to earn my PhD was an easy one.  I excelled in undergrad back in the 90’s. I earned my masters with a 4.0 GPA. I built a 20-year practitioner’s career in human resources and workforce development. These things were doable, so I figured I’d take my education to the next level. Straightforward. Check mark.

I took a part-time job working from home and enrolled in a PhD interdisciplinary program.  I skipped the department’s orientation and jumped into classes. I loved the discussions, the students, the professors. But I kept running across new and unfamiliar requirements. Comps? SPSS? Posters presentations? Read 40 articles before Tuesday?  I felt lost, knowing I had severely underestimated the difference a P, H and D would make.

I began to realize the academic’s world was much different than the practitioner’s world, which I had known so well. I found myself reflecting on my past. I took more time making decisions. I began to think more deeply about the interrelated nature of everything. I considered theory and its applications. I annoyed my practitioner co-workers by totally revising their briefs and surveys. I presented a barely readable poster and had a great time doing it. I learned that “adequate” and “sounds plausible” are compliments in academia. I learned to repeat myself repetitively.  Most of all, I slowed down to appreciate the tremendous talent of my professors and fellow students.

Five years later as I approach my graduation, I feel a calm confidence about the next phase of life. I feel prepared to navigate the way between my practitioner’s views and my newly developed Ph.D. mentality. I like this space in-between.  And this time, there is no way I’m skipping the department’s hooding ceremony.

<< back