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By Kimberly K. Estep,
Chancellor, WGU Tennessee
During the eighteenth century, British sailors endured many hardships on the trans-Atlantic sea voyages to the New World. One of the most dreaded complications of this risky voyage was the doldrums, the common term for running into a low-pressure area that produced no winds. In an age when ships were powered exclusively by wind, being trapped in the doldrums meant making little or no headway – for days or even weeks on end.
Of course, we’re all susceptible to “hitting the doldrums” in our everyday lives as adults. This is particularly true for many WGU Tennessee students, who must balance their coursework with family and work obligations. The freedom of our competency-based approach – which allows students to set their own pace as they move through the curriculum – can sometimes be difficult to navigate. In my own experience as a doctoral student, hitting the doldrums almost kept me from reaching the safe port of completion. I had moved very rapidly through the early part of the program, finishing my coursework and qualifying exams right on time. However, after returning from my semester in England – where I conducted historical research for my dissertation – I was pulled into the typical distractions that every student faces: I took on an additional part-time job to pay the bills, I moved to a new residence, and I spent time reconnecting with friends. Before I knew it, ten months had slipped by, and I had produced almost nothing! I was fortunate that I had a professor whose stern encouragement helped push me out of the doldrums. With his help, I found the winds I needed to make progress toward my goal.
Wondering what to do if you hit the doldrums?
Some of our mentors also had some great suggestions:
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