by Delaney Tufts, Staff Writer, and Kari Lutes, Features Editor
For many students, the next step after Asbury is to pursue a graduate degree. Professors and advisors offer wisdom and resources for students as they consider what school after Asbury might look like. Keith Buhler, Asbury University adjunct professor of philosophy, just completed his doctorate degree in philosophy at the University of Kentucky in the fall.
Buhler, who had funding for six years to complete his degree but completed it in four and a half years, offers words of wisdom for students considering pursuing a graduate degree. Buhler’s first words of advice come from his tactics for graduating, which can help students who are planning to pursue higher educate devise a game plan before they enter graduate work.
“In graduate school, nobody holds your hand,” he said. “There is no academic advising to speak of. You have to do it yourself. You have to treat school like your job: research, plan, and take initiative.”
To keep himself on track, Buhler made a master list of the tasks he needed to accomplish, which he called his “UK Master Plan.” He listed all the classes, pre-requisites, language requirements, forms, qualifying exams, committees and tests he needed to fulfill before getting his doctorate.
The next piece of advice Buhler gave is that time management is key. Alongside of getting his degree, he had three other jobs including a part time job in downtown Lexington, adjunct teaching and a teaching assistantship at UK. He advises keeping a list of all the tasks that you need to accomplish in a given day.
“The way I manage [my time] is to prioritize and always work from a list,” he said. “There is one list for that day, and one big list of everything else I need to do in general. Each day I transfer the highest priority items to my daily list. My wife took on more duties with food, bills, and our two children to give me time to get everything done.”
Even with a list, it is important to prioritize each task. Buhler said each task grad school required was doable, but combined could be very challenging. “The key is to focus on one thing at a time and not worry about the others — which is hard for someone with ADD, like me,” he said.
Buhler also suggests viewing grad school as a job, rather than only an education. He said that students entering the world of academia should “get a teaching or researching assistantship and treat it as their job, their career. No one should take on debt to get a degree in the humanities, unless reliable mentors say that the job market is secure.”
Buhler’s final word of advice is to pursue graduate school, if students feel that it is the next step on their career path. “If God doesn’t pull you in an obvious way, do what you enjoy and what others tell you are good at,” Buhler said. “If that’s academia, jump in! A doctorate earns you opportunities you can’t otherwise get.”