I spent a year thinking and praying about whether to go back to school to get my PhD. I always felt that I had a good rapport with my undergraduate students and I realized that I could be of more service to the world by helping students realize their dreams than by selling more plastic soda bottles. I am grateful for that selling and marketing experience, but realized that teaching was my "calling."
I just had a conversation with a mother of a 13-year old who is considering going back to college to finish her degree. After our conversation, I think that there might be an additional purpose for me going through this doctoral experience--helping older students feel confident about re-entering college.
After she asked what I did for a living (okay, it is not much of a living yet), she poured our her heart about whether she should go back to school, the discouragement she has received over the years from her family members about the career she would like to pursue, and her mixed feelings about leaving her 13-year old daughter to return to school at night. While I am certainly not an expert, I feel like I was meant to be with her at that time to encourage her to pursue her dreams, for herself and her daughter. I encouraged her to try hard things because getting through hard things is as much perserverance as intelligence. Finally, I told her stories of how my 12-year old daughter now knows how to microwave food when she is hungry or wash her clothes when she wants to, without relying on me. It is both hard and good for everyone.
Even though this has been a discouraging week at school, I have to keep reminding myself that I am here for a much higher purpose.