The focus of this study was to examine motivations and reactions in context of a midlife decision to seek a doctoral degree. Participants were 116 non-traditional age, men and women graduate students and recent alumni from one of three geographically distributed and blended delivery model doctoral programs. Demographic information was collected, including career history and goals, age, gender, and ethnicity. The mean and median ages were between 41 and 50. The research questionnaire featured narrative questions regarding “midcourse corrections,” any experienced trauma, and life satisfactions. Autobiographical material was also analyzed thematically, providing further illustrative examples of the midlife experiences in the course of negotiating a doctoral education. Both the narrative responses and autobiographies were analyzed using content analysis (Ryan & Bernard, 2000). Forty-four percent of the sample reported seeking the doctoral degree as part of a career change plan, while 56% sought to achieve an advanced degree in their current fields. Despite a high rate of reported regret, surprise, and even trauma, considerable life satisfaction (91%) was reported as the result of seeking doctoral education in midlife, by definition a “midcourse correction.”
Midcourse Corrections, Life Satisfaction, Mid-Career Students, Life Review, Qualitative Research
This research was funded by the Office of the Provost at Fielding Graduate University and awarded to Sherry Hatcher, Ph.D., Principal Investigator. The views expressed in this manuscript do not necessarily reflect those of the granting agencies.
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Recommended APA Citation
Hiltz-Hymes, C. E., Spicer, S., Hardy, E. A., Waddell, M., & Hatcher, S. L. (2015). Midcourse Corrections and Life Satisfaction in a Sample of Mid-Career Doctoral Students. The Qualitative Report, 20(10), 1709-1722. Retrieved from https://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol20/iss10/12