In This Issue:
- Mistake #2: Leaving Before You Finish Your Degree
- Email of the Month
- Congratulations TA-DA!™ Graduates
I hope you enjoyed your holiday. I would like to say hello to the graduate students who attended my workshop at the National Black Graduate Student Conference and the University of Central Florida. I look forward to meeting the students at the University of Oregon and Bowling Green State University later on this week.
Let’s face it: mistakes are a part of life. We all make them. The good news is that we can learn from our mistakes. The better news is that we can learn just as much – if not more! – from the mistakes of others.
Many graduate students begin applying for jobs at the latter-stage of becoming Ph.D. candidates; most students secure a continuing tenure-track job in the first or second year of the application process. While securing a job while you are ABD, (All done But Dissertation) is essential, your start date might determine whether or not you eventually finish your degree.
When students achieve the benchmark of ABD many are tempted to leave the university’s fold and finish their document while pursuing a job or other interests in “the outside world.” Accepting an invitation to teach a large, upper-division course at a nearby research university might sound impressive if not exciting. The lure for more teaching experience and the generous pay scale may motivate you to leave your academic department too early. Those who do run the risk of not finishing the Ph.D. at all. Leaving the comfort and support of an academic department inevitably diminishes your enthusiasm to work on the thesis/dissertation. In addition, the outside world brings with it many competing events that too often take priority over writing.
While you are still on campus take advantage of the variety of ways to identify or create teaching opportunities to gain practical hands-on experience prior to graduation. You can volunteer to give guest lectures based on your particular interest or specialty. Look for opportunities to fill in during the scheduled or unscheduled absence of a professor in your department. Don’t overlook opportunities to team teach a course with a faculty member, a postdoc or another graduate student. Teaching out-side the regular academic schedule might be more advantageous; consider teaching a course during the summer months, interim semesters or an accelerated semester to broaden your teaching portfolio before you graduate.
When I received my first job offer as an assistant professor, my new employer was adamant that I finish my dissertation before starting my new job. I was told, “Take another semester if you have to, but finish your dissertation.” My employer had learned from experience that it is very difficult to find time to work on your thesis/dissertation once you begin a new job.
Even if you have been a teaching assistant while pursuing a Ph.D., understand that there is a whole world of difference between being a teacher in a classroom to becoming an active, contributing member of the academic community. Serving as a new professor can be both overwhelming and extraordinarily stressful. As an assistant professor, your time will be stretched thin learning how to do your new job. Along with teaching you will be meeting with potential students and new faculty, leading discussions with first-year students, giving guest lectures, reviewing journal articles in your academic field, reviewing curriculum changes, organizing conference papers, writing articles for publication, sitting on thesis committees outside your department, mentoring student groups, and serving on several short-term campus or departmental committees. Heap on top of that the stress of a new location, new responsibilities, new co-workers and the need to make new friends, and your capacity to take on any more is most likely tapped out. Think you can try to squeeze into this mix enough time (and energy!) to work on your thesis/dissertation? Think again.
Closely guarding your priorities is an essential strategy for successfully completing your degree with in a specified time period. Remember that if you have one academic year to complete your dissertation, you are actually only looking at 9 months. And that is if you are writing full-time. If you take into account your professional responsibilities along with setbacks due to illness, holidays, family/personal problems, and problems with computing equipment, think before you leave your university without your degree in hand!
Delaying your graduation date may not be the end of the world but taking a job before you finish your degree might be. If your goal is to get the degree and move on to a career in the academy consider taking another year or semester to finish writing your thesis or dissertation.
With effective time-management tools like TA-DA! Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished you can leave with both the degree and the job in hand.
Email Question of the Month:
Dear Dr Carter,
I have another quick question: I am doing a thesis on prenatal care and am on literature review. I have more than 50 articles to read and as I pick articles they all seem to irrelevant to my hypothesis and I get depressed and give up. I read your suggestions to make table. Do I do it as I am reading the articles. I think I have writers block. I get so bored. Please suggest. Waiting to hear from you, Suchitra
Your question is a common one. The answer is how to manage your time around the responsibilities you already have. The solution is to say to yourself that you can do it and not feel like it is impossible. You are not a victim. You don’t have to wait to become motivated, excited, or even interested. There are still things you can do until those emotions happen. The task as I said before is to do something no matter how small every day. See my newsletter on what you can do to get it done. If you have time to write me you have time to work on your thesis/dissertation.
TA-DA!™ Graduates —
Congratulations on Your Success
I completed my proposal defense and now I am in the process of organizing my chapters and writing schedule and the analysis. I am using restricted data for my analysis so when I can’t run my analyses at home, I try to write every day a page at least and thus far it worked for me. Will see how it goes. My goal is to finish this fall in October. -Gabriele P.
I finished writing my thesis last week and I am waiting for my advisor to send me the corrections. . . I am also looking for a job related to Environmental Science.
Wendy Y. Carter, Ph.D.
About the Author: As a single mother, professor Wendy Y. Carter, Ph.D., completed three masters’ degrees and a PhD. Her motto is a Good Thesis/Dissertation is a Done Thesis/Dissertation. She is the creator of a new innovative interactive resource tool on CD—TADA! Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished. To learn more and sign up for her FREE tips and teleclasses, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Privacy is our policy. TADA™ Finishline does not give out or sell our subscribers’ names or e-mail addresses.