Let's backtrack a bit. Back in 2007 or so, my friend Liz suggested that I look into going back to school for Instructional Design. It sounded interesting enough that when I was unemployed and realizing that it was a good time to see about finishing the bachelor's, some research was done.
The original plan with it was to find a corporate trainer job, get out there in HR and create training materials to be used online or in a classroom. Kind of bridging the technology skills, the love of training and the real world experience.
Then, the return to academia changed my plans somewhat. Yes, I still wanted the Master's, but I shifted to the Technology side because I wanted to know HOW to do it, not just design it. A few months of being in a school setting and I realized I wanted to WORK for a school, preferably higher education.
More changes came after seeing Tony Attwood speak and following up with professors. It's hard to believe that seven months ago, I wasn't even considering doctoral studies, now I've got a clear vision of what I want to do and what research I want to conduct. Even better, with that framework, the Master's studies are flowing from that concept.
Tonight's class contained a pep talk from the professor, a "look at how much you've accomplished in fourteen weeks" speech that was given after we'd spent two hours discussing the various technologies presented in the 2011 Horizon Report. This also was after talking about how much technology has come (though I had to chuckle about the comment that "15 years ago, we didn't have home computers" because I did! and Internet, too!) and how rapidly it is still changing.
She spoke of how we are poised for many jobs, that if we look at the want ads today, they want the skills we possess (though some would chuck Dreamweaver for HTML 5), that there's plenty of opportunities in all sorts of disciplines.
Then she launched into the doctoral studies, why it's a good idea, what you can do with it and that a PhD. in Instructional Design doesn't necessarily mean you'll be working as a teacher.
The words just served to reaffirm what I know, that I'm on the right path, that having passion for what you're studying is just as important as the studies themselves and when you figure out what you want to do with the degree, it makes it easier to work on it.
It (almost) makes all the stress go away. Almost.