Advocating for my fellow doctoral scholars is something I think every graduate should pursue. There is a sense of obligation, of course, to help out our comrades in arms, but it is also part of my core beliefs that humanity is at its best when knowledge is shared.
In keeping with this sense of duty, I informally polled two social media groups comprised of current doctoral students and alumni. This convenience sample included students and graduates from over forty institutions across the United States, some of whom were virtual students oversees. The total sample size was 197 and here are the results to the survey:
When asked "Based on your own doctoral journey, which one of the following do you think needs to be improved in order to improve overall doctoral success and/or experience?" participants felt:
76% Faculty-to-Student Mentorship
12% Curriculum design
6% Critical Thinking/Philosophical Thought
4% Student-to-Student Mentoring
1% None of the above
and one participant added that better processes needed to be established to provide sponsorship of students to faculty, as well as steps to dissertation completion.
The prevalence of faculty mentorship being identified as an institutional issue was a humbling reminder of the vital role faculty play in the overall experience and success rate of doctoral students. As universities innovate and adapt to the virtual schema, we cannot forget the interpersonal relationships that are integral to the academic journey.