By the time I got to Niagara University, I had been bouncing through higher education more or less on cruise control for 10 years. I started at Genesee Community College, where the open enrollment policy translated to filling out one sheet of paper.
When I joined the ROTC program, there weren’t a lot of people interested in military service volunteering to go to Iraq so I was admitted to RIT again by signing a single form and starting the following week.
St. John Fisher was a bit more rigorous to enroll; however, I received a good deal of assistance and direction from a transfer admissions counselor. I earned my master’s degree through the American Military University, which is geared toward military personnel and, as such, the admission process was streamlined.
So when I approached the task of applying to Niagara University for the doctoral program, I found it a bit intimidating in comparison to my prior experiences up to that point. Yet, in the end, it was not as complicated as it first seemed.
The staff at Niagara did everything they could to support me in the process and make the application pathway as seamless as possible. I attended one of their “meet and greet” nights and was able to meet students currently in the program as well as some of my future classmates.
I was introduced to the dean of the college and Dr. Walter Polka, who is the program coordinator and one of the most welcoming people I have had the pleasure of working with. There was even free food.
The rest of the enrollment process ended up being a great introduction to the program. It had been awhile since I had written much of anything. Writing the goal statement helped me answer my own questions about why I was seeking enrollment into a rigorous multiyear program. After the interview, I knew I was doing the right thing by striving for entrance to the program.
Before applying to the Ph.D. program, it had been at least five years since I took anything resembling a formal “test.” I personally hate standardized tests and have never done that well on them. I find memorizing information and regurgitating it in a fixed amount of time and in a specific manner a pretty bad experience. Having to take the GRE just seemed terrible. The staff assured me it “wasn’t that bad” and that it would have a “nominal effect” on my chances to enter the program. In the end, there was no getting out of it, so if I wanted to be admitted, I needed to take the test!
The GRE is now a computer-based test. I signed up and took it on a random Tuesday at an unassuming office in a strip mall. After a few hours, it was over and the scores were fine. It ended up not being a big deal at all. Shortly afterward, I was informed of my acceptance into the program and started on the best educational experience of my life.
The Ph.D. program has helped me learn how to think, examine and question. Within a year, with the skills I gained, I was able to apply directly to my current position and was promoted to a high level of leadership within the company. I would strongly encourage anyone considering this program not to let the prospect of the GRE or paperwork deter you. There is much to be gained and learned within the program that will lead to great personal and professional growth.