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William Allan Kritsonis, PhD


Priscilla D. Johnson
PhD Student in Educational Leadership
The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education
Prairie View A&M University
Prairie View, Texas

William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

Professor and Faculty Mentor
PhD Program in Educational Leadership
The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education
Prairie View A&M University
Member of the Texas A&M University System
Prairie View, Texas
Visiting Lecturer (2005)
Oxford Round Table
University of Oxford
Oxford, England
Distinguished Alumnus (2004)
College of Education and Professional Studies
Central Washington University

A certain criterion is required of doctoral students. This is a powerful journey with
unlimited growth. By choosing our own values, we remain conscious of our goals. Some are
consumed by distractions, guilt, and anxiety. Being aware of emotions allows the
opportunity to block distracters of achievement. Ayn Rands, Virtue of Selfishness,
illustrates the positives of acting for your own benefit. These are characteristics of rational
individuals, living a life worthy of inclination.


A person my hope and dream to obtain a doctoral degree. In reality, a persons drive and
persistence makes the hopes and dreams a reality. We are taught to live and work as a team? In
school why did we share with others? At home, why did we help our siblings? Ponder for a
moment, did these people really need our help or did they take advantage of our kind hearts and
giving spirits? What did we learn from helping? Did they ask for the same help anymore? The
way we are taught to give and provide for others has intrudingly seeped into many faucets of our
lives. Why are there so few doctoral students? To be classified as a doctoral student singles one
out, in a workgroup. To declare your intent to become a doctor territorially places a higher
expectation on your performance and credibility as an individual. These expectations are often
infrequently mentioned. Based on the Virtue of Selfishness, I found achievement igniters to be
metaphysical factors. These influence achievement, while achievement distracters hinder
achievement. One must adhere to the standards set by the doctoral program. It requires clinging
to diligent work habits and incorporating beneficial elements of selfishness.
Purpose of the Article
The purpose of this article is to discuss characteristics of doctoral students that lead to a
degree of success. In an epistemological sense, students must be equipped to stand, think, and
speak as leaders. Ayn Rands Virtue of Selfishness demonstrates a behavior-altering guide for
doctoral students who desire success.
Standards and Rigor of Doctoral Programs
A doctoral degree cannot be priced. The value is an immense package filled with time,
patience, money, and above all performance. The road is feared by many; traveled by few; and
those who dare proceed should be armed with dedication. Every book read, every paper written,


and all research performed is a compass to guide you along an academic journey. According to
the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and the University of Texas (UT),
public doctoral programs that have existed for three or more years have 18 key characteristics.
Specifically for students, GRE scores are between 1000-1250 and are based on competitiveness.
The average student graduates in 5.5 out of ten years. In addition, on a three-year average,
students publish or present papers 1.13 times per year (2010).
Nothing is given to man on earth except a potential and the material on which to
actualize it (Rand, 1961, p. 23). Doctoral students define achievement according to their
standards and goals. For example, one student may believe a 4.0 gradepoint-average and perfect
attendance equates achievement. On the other hand, another student believes a 4.0 GPA, perfect
attendance, three paper presentations per year, and volunteerism in their doctoral program
defines achievement. In this article, we will describe achievement in a doctoral program as
meets: a) personal goals, b) standard doctoral-program goals, and c) other academic activities
such as volunteerism, paper presentations, and publications. Individuals pursuing a doctoral
degree have varying degrees of motivation. Some are enchanted by the mere fact of being called
doctor. Some students desire a challenge; while others believe obtaining the degree will shower
them with riches. Then there are those who desire to change the world, for the better. A doctoral
degree can be the key to opening this door. Let us begin with factors that ignite achievement.
Achievement Igniters
The effort required in a doctoral program often places students in circumstances which
require self-reflection and personal judgment. Students are trusted to utilize their own ideas and


document all sources. There is an unlimited amount of time spent reflecting while researching
authors works and ideas. This requires patience. A person must use of ones mind and internal
values to construct rational decisions. These values should be fully developed through an acute
thought process, which evaluates ones standards. For example, doctoral students are required to
produce scholarly works in nearly every course. Their work contributes to the body of
knowledge and should display visual convictions about the topic. A doctoral students works and
words should be an unwavering representation of their stance and perception on the issue.
Students must strive to stand in front of their work, as the effect glows behind them. Remember
your purpose. Ayn Rand (1961) describes rationality as ones acceptance of the responsibility
of forming ones own judgments and of living by the work of ones own mind (p. 28).
When we make ethical decisions, parallel to our values, we are navigated by our code of
ethics. Writers and students are taught that plagiarizing the work of another individual is
unethical when living by the writers code of conduct. Think for a moment about how much
material exists in our field alone. We expect this material to be accurate, realistic, and the truthful
work of the author(s). We use this very material as sources for our work. Doctoral students
should provide the same veraciousness in their work as they expect in others. Morality can take
us far in life, if we choose this as our compass. It is important for us to understand that few
individuals are not operating on the same values. Avoid whim decisions, which describe a person
who does not consider or care about the outcome and reasons for your actions (Rand, 1961).



What we unconsciously believe about our capabilities, the values we add, and our
perceptions of goal attainment are metaphysical ramifications our self-esteem. These notions are
continuously transforming based upon signals from our environment, including those closest to
us (CSU, 2010). As doctoral students, we may ask, Can I actually be successful, what have I
done to add to the body of knowledge in my field? To answers these questions, we must have a
sound and justified motive for obtaining a doctoral degree. Through confidence in our abilities
and worth, we have the tools to constantly maintain our standards. Self-esteem then comes to us
as result of our commitment. Nearly all students will experience anxiety in the face of complex
task. These thoughts need to be quickly washed away as they are tides, which hinder productivity
(Rand, 1961).
How do you value learning? This answer can be found in your experiences (whether
good or bad) or sensations felt as result of your efforts to learn. The level of achievement we
experience in our education is connected to the value placed on learning. Students see, think, and
feel differently. What we value is our choice and should not be compared to the values of
another. This distinction in individuality is a deviation of axiology (Kritsonis, 2010). We choose
our own level of achievement and because we have life, value is possible. From this life, we
depend on two factors for achievement: energy or inputs from our environment and our efforts.
For example, a student combs the Internet and research books to find the meaning of the
statistical method Chi Square. The student approaches their Quantitative Research professor to
ask for their input. The professor explains the meaning of the term and the student achieves their
goal. In this example it was only by the effort of the student and input from the professor the
student obtained their objective. When students choose their values they ultimately chose the


correlated action to accomplish achievement. If one chooses values that are not aligned with their
purpose, they should expect negative results (Rand, 1961).
Objectivist Ethics
A metaphysical part of obtaining a doctoral degree is the ability to choose ethical
decisions. We can elect to not use anothers work as if it were our own. We choose to follow
testing guidelines. We prefer to respect the opinions of others. We even choose our religious
preferences. These decisions are not subjective, but rather objective. If we become leaders, we
have to be fair and ethical in resolutions. If ethical choices are not currently what we practice, we
should surely start to do so. According to the objectivist ethics, we should make decisions based
on what is right or rational for our life. This is self-interest, but serves as a means to meet our
personal goals and enjoyment from this life (Rand, 1961). In order to flourish from simply
someone seeking a degree, into a scholar, we have to consistently make objective ethics our
criterion for decisions and use wisdom to bring about this transformation (Strike, 2006).
We have learned that ethical decisions require an objective view. Our conscious is
another means. When your mind, chimed in and told you do not do it, you chose the opposite
and received an adverse effect. Our conscious cannot operate solo; it requires our inputs. These
inputs are derived from conceptual knowledge. Learning requires conceptualization, which in
our case is obtaining information, organizing its components, and applying the synthesized
material in a stored area in our brain for future use. We can conceptualize and attach meaning to
nearly any event in our life. Being conscious is necessary for success, but this requires our full
attention. With an unfocused mind, we open a door that allows mishaps to enter. A fully


conscious student is one who has the knowledge to choose, take pride in their work, and
appreciate benefits of a well-evaluated life (Rand, 2010).
Positive Thinking
Our thoughts have a profound impact in our lives. We seem to create our realities by the
thoughts we company. Born into this world, our slate is clean and our mind is pure. Through
observing and learning we discover how to do a certain task. Still, our mind has to be clear in
order to retain knowledge. Without limits, we hold an enormous amount of memory. Doctoral
students are faced with some of the same challenges such as work-life balance and anxiety.
Responsibility and creating an action plan can tame many of these isolated events. Life requires
using our own individualized thought process. We create our own values and conversely should
create logic that is rational to our lives. Earning a doctoral degree implies we have the tools to
add to existing literature. If we ride on the ideas of others and distrust what our conscious tells
us, we will fail in our duties as a professional. We have to turn visions into concepts and learn to
judge through our own meaning. Rand states An individual is a man who lives for his own sake
and by his own mind; he neither sacrifices himself to others nor sacrifices others to himself
(1961, p. 159).
Productivity & Pride
Doctoral students should not wait until they earn their degree to be productive. Attending
class and completing all work is not enough. It is standard and duty for supreme individuals.
Students should participate in research symposiums, poster contests, and submit call for papers.
In order to achieve what you vision, you must display the appropriate behaviors. Knowing is the
first step that motivates ethical decisions. Productivity requires effort. It demands our strongest
desires to succeed, the wings to withstand turbulence, and understanding the value in an


inevitable catastrophe. We are chosen to be prolific. This arises from a process of conscious
thinking. As we proceed into productive environments, we can a sense the envy of pride. We
create the individual the world encounters, the world wants to see, and the world wants to be
(Rand, 1961).
Humans, plants, and animals have a predictable growth measurement. Boundaries should
not be placed on how much a doctoral student can grow while they pursue a degree. We all have
the opportunity to transform dysfunctional environments into gardens. This is achieved through
constant gardening. Metaphysical growth occurs when conscious efforts, logical thinking, and an
everlasting will to achieve exists. Stunted at growth often occurs when necessary requirements
are withheld from growing environments. Growing is the bridge to psychologically
Achievement Distracters
Depression is real. Being not a fad or passive phenomenon. According to the University
of British Colombia (2010), graduate work is tedious and coupled with our daily lives can impact
the way we feel mentally and physically. Rand believes if our mind is hindered by fear, our
actions can become stagnate. In relation to doctoral students, this has the ability to obstruct
achievement (1961). It is known we will have to work beyond our capabilities to earn this
degree. Notice when you feel anxious about assignments, lonely, experience bad mood swings,
or difficulty sleeping. Preventing these issues are bridges to our goals and antecedents to
healthiness (UBC, 2010).


I believe that selfishness is caring for your livelihood. The life you were given belongs to
you. This affords you the responsibility to care and fill it to the brim. The world has different
views on how we should treat and react to one another. Some people believe what we do for
others is good and what we do for our own interest is selfish. Before one helps another, consider
all the benefits for both parties and deduct from the cost of aiding the individual. If the scale is
unbalanced, consider the alternative. This is known as altruism. Pursing your goals and achieving
your dreams rational to your life is not evil; this is objectivist ethics (Rand, 1961).
Acting on Whim
When we make decisions without giving thought to the outcome, we act on a whim. For
all individuals, especially those pursing to become doctors, this is simply irrational. According to
Rand (1961), A whim is a desire experienced by a person who does not know and does not care
to discover its cause (p. 14). Earlier, we discussed how most humans are born with the ability
to think, conceptualize, and create rational decisions. Laziness or hopes that an outcome will turn
in our favor are not characteristics of individuals who live and learn for their wellness. It is the
follies of those waiting for success. Again, we must habitually employ conscious decisionmaking; it is a requirement for rational individuals (Rand, 1961).
You want to be a trader. A trader is an individual who receives what they have earned and
does not bestow goodness to those who are not worthy. A trader is fair and exchanges with
individuals with the same characteristic. In your career and doctoral studies, you might encounter
individuals who are unfair and make the work unbalanced with their behaviors. These
individuals expect others to bow to them and work for free. These are people who feed from our


success, use us for their means, and rob us of our victories. Avoid these individuals, as they
hinder your success and have no benefit to the living. Rand advises us to be careful of those we
give love and attention. We cannot expect to be loved for our faults. Neither should we exalt the
weakness of others, only to their goodness (1961).
Three schools of thought are considered anti-life: mystic theory, social theory, and
subjective theory. Being against a rational life, the process of thinking, and the ability to choose
your own values describes anti-life. The mystic theory declares that it is difficult for man to be
ethical and our standard of ethics is set by a supernatural source. We have the ability, the duty to
set our own values. As leaders, it is our responsibility to create cultures that appreciate a sense of
shared ethics. The social theory declares that life on earth is for collectiveness of the world and
not the individual. We are expected to not have a voice and be a slave to those who declare
dominion over our life. We saw this phenomenon in Nazi Germany. The subjective theory
declares that individuals can choose what is right or make decisions on a whim. Under this
theory, people trade unfairly and attempt to get away with immoral acts (Rand, 1961). Doctoral
students have to be for their own values to live a life worth living. Socrates said it best an
unexamined life is not worth living (Kemberling, 2001, para. 11).
Denying Individual Rights
Rand (1961) believes racism is a quest for the unearned (p. 149). One day, you will be
in the position to lead. Whether it is for a school district, large corporation, or your own
enterprise. You will have an affect on the lives of people from diverse backgrounds. If you deny
the rights of individuals, your achievement will falter. You see we were given a blank slate at
birth. As we grew, some of us had opportunities others did not. Our environment and the intrinsic



fire from within have created a dream worth pursuing. Your colleague, employee, family, and
children may be on this same journey. Would you deny them of their individual rights?
Concluding Remarks
In conclusion, the life bestowed on us is our own to shape. For doctoral students, The
Virtue of Selfishness is the recipe to achieving our educational goals. Earning a doctoral degree is
only a taste of success. With a touch of selfishness, we develop the values, ethics, and
consciousness required for achievement. We avoid factors that inhibit our growth. A doctoral
degree is often considered a terminal point in your education. For some it is the end of a welleducated life. For many a terminal degree is simply a new beginning for new adventures in
learning. For others it is a pillar of achievement. I hope it is the beginning of a life lead by
rational means.


California State University, LA (CSU). (2010). Self esteem: A definition. Retrieved from
Kemerling, G. (2001). Socrates: Philosophical life. Retrieved from
Kritsonis, W. (2010). Philosophies of schooling. EDUL-7003-P01. [Lecture Notes]. Prairie View,
TX: Prairie View A&M University, Department of Educational Leadership.
Rand, A. (1962). The virtue of selfishness. New York, NY: Signet
Strike, K. (2006). Ethical leadership in schools: Creating community in an environment of
accountability. Thousands Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
University of Texas (UT). 2010. Characteristics of Texas public doctoral programs. Retrieved
University of British Colombia (UBC). 2010. Stress and depression. Retrieved from

About Dr. William Allan Kritsonis



WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS was recognized as the Central Washington University

Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus for the College of Education and Professional
Studies. He was honored by the Texas National Association for Multicultural Education as
Professor, Scholar, and Pioneer Publisher for Distinguished Service to Multicultural Research
Publishing. The ceremony was held at Texas A&M University-College Station. He was inducted
into the prestigious William H. Parker Leadership Academy Hall of Honor. He was an Invited
Visiting Lecturer at the Oxford Round Table at Oriel College in the University of Oxford, United
Kingdom. Dr. Kritsonis was a Visiting Scholar at Columbia Universitys Teacher College in New
York, and Visiting Scholar in the School of Education at Stanford University, Palo Alto,

In May 2015, Dr. Kritsonis participated in the Think Tank on Global Education at the
Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The think tank focused
on how to help students develop intercultural awareness, knowledge of global issues, and
He served on a national think tank appointed by the Secretary of Education in 2012-15
for Providence Rhode Island Schools with sessions conducted at Brown University in the
Annenberg Institute for School Reform. In 2013, he was a nominee for the Outstanding Texas
Educator Award exemplifying the leadership of John Ben Shepperd for public leadership
education, ethics, and public service.
He is Founder of National FORUM Journals (Since 1982). Professor Kritsonis is the
author of numerous articles as well as author or coauthor of several books.
He has served as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools, director of student
teaching and field experiences, professor, author, consultant, editor-in-chief, and publisher. Dr.
Kritsonis has considerable experience in chairing PhD dissertations and teaching in doctoral and
masters programs in educational leadership and supervision. He has earned the rank as professor
at three universities in two states, including successful post-tenure reviews.
Dr. Kritsonis has traveled and lectured extensively throughout the United States and
world-wide. Some international travels include Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Turkey, Italy,
Greece, Monte Carlo, England, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Poland,
Germany, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Switzerland, Grand Cayman, Haiti, St.
Maarten, St. John, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, Nassau, Freeport, Jamaica,
Barbados, Martinique, Canada, Curacao, Costa Rico, Aruba, Venezuela, Panama, Bora Bora,
Tahiti, Latvia, Spain, Honduras, and many more. He has been invited to lecture and serve as a
guest professor at many universities across the nation and abroad.
Dr. William Allan Kritsonis is presently Professor of Educational Leadership at The
University of Texas of the Permian Basin in the College of Education within The University of


Texas System. He teaches in the MA Principal and Superintendent Certification and preparation
programs along with assisting to develop a new doctoral program. He earned his PhD from The
University of Iowa, Iowa City, MEd from Seattle Pacific University, and BA from Central
Washington University.
David E. Herrington, PhD
Texas A&M University-San Antonio
Summer 2015