By Utah National Parks Council
Jun 18, 2013

What do doctors and Scouting have in common?

Do you know what the acronym ABD stands for? Don’t worry if you do not recognize it as there are thousands of acronyms out there. I will give you a hint: ABD is an acronym that is used in higher education. Still don’t know what it means? Well, most college students don’t know either.

It stands for All But Dissertation.

A doctoral degree is the highest degree a student earns in education. It grants the receiver an honor not held by many and allows the recipient to include the title Dr. before his/her name. It is the culmination of years of work completing multiple projects, assignments and papers. It represents the sacrifice of thousands of hours, multiple challenges and struggles and the ability to persevere despite obstacles placed in one’s path. A doctoral degree shows commitment despite many times wanting to quit and give up and not knowing how to make it one more day. Even when the end is in sight the challenges and obstacles make it difficult to endure.

Hence, many students working on a doctoral degree complete the course work putting in thousands of hours of work and time, sacrificing time with their families. The culmination of their coursework is the presentation of a dissertation that presents the author’s research in a field of study.

A dissertation consists of five chapters and can be anywhere from 60-200+ pages depending on the type of study being done. The first three chapters are a proposal of the study that includes the details about the study including methodology, data collection and literature review about the topic, an explanation of why the methodology was chosen and how the data will be analyzed. The final chapters explain the findings and analysis.

The first thing a doctoral candidate does is select a committee consisting of a chair and additional members to help guide the student through the process, answer any questions and offer support. Next, the candidate begins the process of deciding the topic of the research study and learning about the topic. Then, the student begins writing the proposal about the study. After the first three chapters are completed the proposal has to be approved by university committees who often return the proposal with recommendations before being able to resubmit. This can take months to complete and data collection cannot begin until a candidate receives approval. After a candidate receives the appropriate approval he/she can begin the project of collecting data for analysis. Upon completion of chapters four and five, along with multiple revisions the candidate is ready to present the completed project for oral and final approval. This is the final celebration and the end of the journey.

Because the dissertation process requires a lot of work and sacrifice many candidates complete all of their coursework for graduation but lack the dissertation to receive the doctoral degree.

Now you can put “ADB” at the end of your signature but it does not look as good as “Dr.” and does not have the same benefits.

Plus, who is going to know what it means and what assumptions are they going to make about you – Why did you not finish? Was it too hard? Were you not smart enough? Others have done it why couldn’t you? Are you going to start a project at work and not complete it?

I remember when my son had advanced enough to begin working on his Eagle project. First there was trying to earn enough merit badges for advancement and wishing I could find a faster process for the whole thing or at least somebody willing to do it all for me.

As a female, single parent who did not participate in Scouting this was often a frustrating journey. I remember him showing up for his first campout with an overloaded backpack of all the things I was told he needed. How were we supposed to get a tent, sleeping bag, and everything else into a small backpack? Now, he had to do an Eagle project and where to even begin with that and find a project, get it through the review process for approval, complete the project and go through final approval. Then his project came back asking for him to show more leadership and had to be rewritten.

I’m not lying to you, it is a lot of work and no Scout can do it on his own. I wish quitting had been a viable option because it was sure tempting.  But I was not raised to be a quitter. My mom always taught that you finish the race even if you have to crawl across the finish line.

The world will tell you that to earn the rank of Eagle is not important. The world will tell you that it is not worth the effort and the sacrifice. Many who try to discourage you may be friends, family or ward members. They make it seem that the way of the world is easier, that you can be happier following the way of the world. This is a falsehood. This is the adversary. This is how he drags those who are struggling down. He makes it seem easier, he clouds the judgment.

Why do all the work for an Eagle and not complete the Eagle project or ABE, all but the Eagle?

Although there are many great lessons that are learned along the way you miss out on the greatest blessings that are being held in reserve for you that only come from earning the rank of Eagle Scout. You cannot receive these blessings any other way. The rank of Eagle Scout cannot be purchased and once you are past the age of 18 you cannot go back and redo it.

You must understand, yes there will be work, there will be sacrifice. You cannot be idle and sit passively by while time passes but must be actively engaged in meeting your goals.

The more time that passes the less likely you are to complete your Eagle, the louder the voice of the world becomes. Get busy, work a little each day, remain focused and you will know the joy and happiness that comes from receiving the highest attainment Scouting has to offer. You will be part of a select group of young boys and men. You will be an Eagle Scout.

Author: Heidi Sanders | Marketing & PR Director, Utah National Parks Council

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