Wednesday, February 15, 2012

To PhD Candidates Patiently Waiting: Well Wishes, Blessings, Convalescence

Just over a year ago, I wrote this:
In approximately five weeks, I will know where, if anywhere, I am going for doctoral work.

Three weeks later, my completed thesis is due to be submitted to my reading committee.

Five weeks following that, I will graduate from Candler School of Theology with my Master of Divinity.

And two weeks subsequent to graduation, if I have been accepted to a PhD program, my wife and I will be leaving our three-year home and friends and church in Atlanta for a new home elsewhere.

I am tempted to platitudes. Instead, let me just say that it is good to know that others also have been in this same position and have survived.
That was in the middle of one of the most excruciatingly stressful stretches of my life. Literally everything was in the air for my wife and me: my career, her job, our life in Atlanta, whatever future awaited us.

Though I ended up receiving good news just a couple weeks later, not everyone does; and that eventuality doesn't negate or mollify the period of absolute lack of control preceding it.

So let me now say to all those patiently (anxiously) awaiting word: You will survive. This is important, and you are not wrong to worry and pray and wonder and cry and repress and all the rest; but you will make it to the other side. Find good friends, some small community of support, and let them hold you up during this time. It is okay. You will survive.

God's grace upon the whole lot. And having invoked divine authority, let me add one more word: Avoid, at all costs, every rumor and nefarious website offering proleptic answers. Friends, that way madness lies. Trust me.


  1. I was in the same position this time last year. Between the grueling application process, taking an over-loaded course load my last semester, and trying to complete a thesis it was definitely one of the most stressful period of my life.

    I didn't end up getting good news, but it's true -- you do find ways to survive. It's taken me the whole year and then some to get over the reality that I wouldn't be jumping straight into a doctoral program. Good friends were probably single most important thing for me. Avoiding rumors and websites is definitely good advice, that only made things worse for me.

    Best of luck with your work.

  2. Wise advice indeed. And proving much needed even a few years later for all us who having passed through one anxious season find ourselves waiting again (and being tempted by another nefarious website) for word on applications