Doctor of Education graduate

Dr. Chris Applegate, 2017 Doctor of Education with an emphasis in Higher Education Leadership, will be published in the Association for the Advancement of Computing Education the second quarter of 2019. His paper is titled: Interviewing Principals to Obtain their Perceptions of Certified Teaching Candidates with a Degree from an Online Teaching Program.

Today, Dr. Applegate, pictured with his wife, is a high school counselor in Southwest Florida. He shares his tips for online students, advice for individuals interested in pursuing a doctoral degree, and his biggest source of inspiration and why.

What does your typical day look like?

As a school counselor, I am responsible for students 9th through 12th grade. One of the things I like about my job is that I don't have typical days. Every day is different. I could be helping a student who is struggling with issues beyond school, or I may be writing a recommendation letter to assist a student with getting accepted to the college of their dreams. Being a high school counselor means that I work very closely with our administrators and I am the mediator between many of our parents and teachers. This means that some days I may have conferences that are set up for parents to talk with teachers concerning issues the student may be having in class with their behavior or class success. 

What is the best lesson you learned as an online student at NCU?

I think the best lesson I learned as an online student is the need to "solve" each professor as I progressed through each course. The first assignment would always provide a glimpse of what the course would be like and where I needed to focus in order to be successful for that class. Some professors are focused mainly on American Psychological Association (APA)  format and they take points off if everything isn't perfect in APA format, however, others may focus on content and how you present the material. Each course is unique and each professor is unique and since I was not in the classroom with them, I had to use their grading, discussion forums, and feedback to figure out where they focused their attention. 

What advice do you have for prospective students interested in enrolling in your same program at NCU?

My advice to prospective students who are interested in enrolling in the same program as me at NCU is to maintain persistence. You will get frustrated at times and it isn't always going to be easy. No matter how smart you think you are or how prepared you think you are for a doctoral program, there will be things that don't go your way and there will be frustration. You have to go into a doctoral program with the mentality that you are willing to fight to stay in the program, fight to be successful, be willing to speak up for yourself if you feel you have been wronged, and have the persistence to keep going and keep moving forward. Every step forward, no matter how small, is a success and it is one step closer to that finish line. 

Who is your biggest source of inspiration and why?

It seems silly but one of the biggest sources of inspiration in my life has been Rocky Balboa. In one of his movies, he tells his son "The world isn't all rainbows and lollipops, it is a very mean place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there if you let it. But it isn't about how often you get knocked down, but instead, it is about how you get up and keep moving forward, take the hits, and keep moving forward, that is how winning is done." Yes, it is a movie quote but it resonated with me so much because every time I would get knocked down, I would find a way to keep moving forward and keep going. I was a first-year college dropout who got married and had children. I shouldn't have a bachelor’s degree, much less a doctorate, and it is my sincere hope that my persistence provides the motivation for someone else in their life. 

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which would you pick and why?

The Bible. As a Christian, I feel it provides many of the answers I need in my life. It doesn't mean that everything I read always speaks to me at all times, but I have found that in the most difficult moments of my life, it does. My favorite book is James, which tells me in Chapter 1 to consider it pure joy when we face trials. I haven't always had the easiest life. I got married after the first year of college, dropped out, and went to work. I then wound up with two children and didn't go back to college until I was 26 years old. At times, while I was obtaining my BA for education, I worked up to four jobs, took care of my kids, and went to school full-time. Later, I wound up divorced and the book of James once again became applicable in my life. There are many other verses and books which are meaningful, but this one has helped me through some difficult times. 

Northcentral University’s doctoral degree programs in the School of Education offer education professionals the opportunity to develop skills beyond the master’s level. NCU has designed these programs to help you teach children and adults, or take on a role in education leadership.