As you reach the end of your doctoral work, you will probably need to “defend” your dissertation. Most universities in the United States require this, although the procedures and formats may differ among them and from those in other countries. In the U.S., the advisory committee you’ve had a love-hate relationship with throughout your dissertation writing constitutes your defense committee as well. In other countries, the defense may be conducted with a blind peer review process (Australia) or as a viva (U.K.). For most students, though, it’s still a one-to-three-hour torture, with much agonizing beforehand.
The teacher learns from teaching in the anxiety zone
For too long I’d wallowed in my routine: first planted at my computer writing, then client manuscripts, eating, gym, tv-ing, sleeping, occasional grocery-getting, and back again. But I couldn’t deny an itch, a subtle pervasive sense of dissatisfaction.
It was time to leave my comfort cocoon.
The idea had been lurking for several months. Having published many writing how-to articles, I knew I had to teach a writing workshop.
To friends and organizations, you deserve to say no…thanks
Do you feel you can’t refuse the requests or plans of friends or volunteer groups? Do you secretly resent or rage at them? That they’re eroding or wasting your time, the time you want to or need to use for other activities, like your current article, book chapter, or dissertation?
We all have such feelings. To assert ourselves for ourselves takes commitment and practice, especially without making enemies of cherished friends we’ve had for a long time or groups and activities we believe in.
How not to complete your dissertation
From my longtime academic coaching and editing practice guiding doctoral candidates through the peaks and gullies of completing their dissertations, I have seen how women in doctoral programs can easily become diverted by compassion for others in trouble. Well-meaning decisions and actions may result in calamitous consequences to their goal of a completed dissertation.
Although my experience has been primarily with women, if you are a man reading this, you may recognize some of these scenarios. In these stories (names and identifying details changed for their protection), you will see that tender-hearted consideration at the wrong times dangerously waylaid dissertation progress. If you’re a doctoral candidate writing (or not writing) your dissertation, perhaps these tales will confirm decisions to let no major interruptions complete your dreamed-of doctorate.
Are school and spirituality irreconcilable?
Does spirituality go with school, specifically graduate school? School requires your intellect; spirituality requires surrendering your intellect. School lives on logic and realism; spirituality survives on faith.
I used to hold fiercely to these assumptions. Spirituality and school were completely contradictory, I thought, or at least separate.
Privately, I’ve often applied spirituality in my longtime academic practice coaching and advising doctoral candidates as they complete their dissertations. I forgive an ornery client, ask for guidance on a daunting project, let the right assuaging words flow through before a difficult meeting.
Tough love for dissertation drafts
As a dissertation editor and coach, I have much empathy for beleaguered doctoral graduate students wrestling with their tomes. Many candidates seem to get little support from their chairs in guidance, writing, or cheering on. However, a student recently brought to my attention an impressive exception.
At this university, the doctoral students were advised to maintain associations and seek dissertation feedback from their cohort members with regular group meetings. In addition, this chair, unlike many others, held bimonthly meetings (probably uncompensated) with his struggling dissertation students.