Last fall I decided I wanted to become a full-time college professor. The hours are good, I really enjoy what I do, and the girls will get free tuition. Since I happen to teach at a small private liberal arts college where tuition is currently hovering in the mid-$20,000 range (let alone where it'll be in 13 years), then free tuition is a really nice perk.
Despite the fact that my job is inconveniently located 70 miles away, it is a sweet teaching gig. Although I'm perfectly happy with my 2-afternoons-a-week classes, at some point in the next 6-7-8 years I'd like to see if I can turn it into a full-time profession. In order for that to happen I have to get my PhD. Preferably before the next 6-7-8 years.
My major qualification for the program: it has to be done by distance. As in, mostly online with a smattering of on-campus work. Moving somewhere to go to school is not realistic (although it would make it so much cheaper because I could get a teaching fellowship). The local-ish universities are really not so local, and I've already ruled out University of Oregon because I refuse to be a Duck. Plus, they don't have the program I want. Even still. I just say no to Duck.
So my choices are already quite limited.
I've done a fair amount of research on PhD programs, and I've come to the conclusion that I don't want to study literature. I like literature. I do. I like it a lot. I even like teaching it. But I can't imagine myself as a full-time literature professor. It's not my thing.
What I have discovered over the past four years of teaching speech is that communication is my thing. I love teaching public speaking. If I could teach six sections of Fundamentals of Public Speaking for the rest of my professional career, I would. I love helping students overcome their fears of public speaking and deliver speeches about topics they're passionate about. Just this past semester I got to listen to students give speeches on issues they cared deeply about, from helping the homeless, to ministering to children with disabilities, to encouraging members of the military with Love Boxes. Time and time again I hear students say that they were dreading the class to begin with, but loved it by the end. It's very rewarding.
Studying English literature doesn't really make me a better speech teacher. What would make me a better speech teacher is studying communication and rhetoric. That specific area also happens to be an area the college wants to grow in. It just so happens that (as far as I can tell) there are only two programs in the country that offer distance education degrees in communication and rhetoric:
For a variety of reasons (mostly financial) I've decided that Texas Tech's program--a degree called Technical Communication and Rhetoric--is a better fit for me and my future at the college. The only thing I'm a little bit hesitant about is that it, naturally, emphasizes the technical aspect of communication. That's really not my field of expertise (or even vague knowledge of), so I have some serious homework ahead of me for that.
In fact, after working all day on my application I began to have some serious doubts that I am even PhD material. That story is coming tomorrow. ♥