One Step Closer: A Ph.D. update

As the month of September came to an end, so did Cristina’s preparation time for the written exams on her Ph.D. in Communications. 

The written exams were scheduled for Friday, October 3 from 10am to 12pm and from 1pm to 3pm.  When I took my comprehensive in January and February of last year, I had to study for seven different sections within my program.  I passed five and failed two.  Therefore, I was only studying for the two sections I failed. 

A tired Cristina Meier prepares to take her written exams with coffee in hand to stay awake.

A tired Cristina Meier prepares to take her written exams with coffee in hand to stay awake.

I talked to my professors on Tuesday, September 29 (which also happened to be my birthday) and they gave me a proverbial kick in the pants to get me motivated in the right direction during my final days of study.

Somehow, I managed to get everything that I had crammed into my head, during my study hours, down on paper.  Two weeks after my written exams, I had an oral examination scheduled.  I was to get a conference call on Friday, October 16 at 2:30pm.

I was so nervous that day. I had already begun to start planning for my options if I did fail this exam.  When my professor called 15 minutes late, I had already told my proctor that he should go do something else and I would call him when the examination began.  So, I asked my professor to wait a second for me to get my proctor.

“Oh, you don’t need your proctor,” my professor told me. 

“What?  Why don’t I need my proctor.”

“Because you passed.”

I almost passed OUT right then and there.

“Really?  Are you just teasing me or are you being real?”

He was serious.  He told me that my written exams were so much better than last semester that he really didn’t need to ask me anything else.

However, my other two teachers wanted to ask me some questions, so they tortured me for the next 20 minutes before they agreed that I had passed my qualifying exams and I could now officially begin writing my dissertation.

This has been a huge milestone for me.  I know I still have a lot of work ahead of me (especially if I want to graduate in May of 2010), but I’m so glad that I overcame this hurdle.  I am looking forward to working with my advisor on my dissertation topic of studying the ‘third-culture’ kid of the 21st century.

Cristina’s Qualifying Exams Results

     After taking my written exams for my Ph.D. in Communication from Regent University on January 29-30, I had three weeks to review my material and prepare for the oral defense on February 17th. Meanwhile, I was still busy adjusting to being a mom of two without having the help of my mother. 
I realize the big question on everyone’s minds is, “Did you pass?”
     I have to answer both “yes” and “no.”  Let me explain.
     When the day finally arrived for me to take the test, I was both tired and mentally exhausted.  But I thought I was prepared to answer the questions of my professors. 
The exam took place in the director’s office at the school, so that my professors at Regent University could take advantage of the Vonage phone number, which would ring as if we were located in New York and not cost them a huge international long distance fee. It was a conference call from 10am to 12 noon.  I sat on one end of the line while my four professors sat at the other end on a speaker phone. 
Regardless of the time I spent preparing, I immediately became nervous and my mind blanked out at the first question asked of me.  I spent the next two hours trembling through each question and the responses I was giving and feeling completely unnerved.
     At the end of the two hours, I was extremely drained and did not feel that I had done well at all.  The professors bid me farewell to discuss the results of my examination.
     My advisor called me back to give me both “good news and bad news.”  I had done well enough to pass five of the seven segments of the test.  Therefore, I was deemed competent in approximately 71% of my qualifying exams.  BUT…I did not meet their expectations in responding to questions on qualitative research methods or in advanced communication theory.  Therefore, I would be required to take those two portions of the qualifying exam over again in October of 2009 (when the next qualifying exams are made available).
     So, “yes,” I did pass a significant portion of my exams and will not have to retake those sections.  However, “no,” I did not pass the exams entirely.  My transcript for the spring semester will show that I have not passed my exams and that I will need to retake them before I can continue with the process of finishing my doctorate degree.
     However, my professor did tell me that I could begin doing the research needed to present the proposal for my dissertation in the fall semester.  And I would have the rest of the spring and summer semesters to work on that and to study for the two portions of the exam that I will need to retake in October.