Join us Thursday, December 7 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, “Passion for Learning and Research: Is Earning a Doctorate the Right Path For You?”. Presenters Dr. Tasha Egalite, a newly minted PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in TESOL at New Mexico State University, and Dr. Kristin Kew, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Administration at New Mexico State University, will share and reflect on their own doctoral journeys, the critical issues they encountered, and the hoops they jumped through while completing their dissertations. Some of the themes discovered during their research on the dissertation process and obtaining a doctorate were sustaining momentum, maintaining purpose, and creating meaningful works while furthering their learning in the fields of education and educational leadership. Advice will be provided on how to determine whether to apply for a doctoral program and how to navigate some of the pitfalls and rabbit holes of the academic arena.
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.
In your dissertation trek, you may have a chair and committee who are steady, consistent, and infinitely supportive. If not, my condolences.
Students frequently describe their committees as just wanting to push those dissertations through, get their pittance, devote their time to revising and publishing their own (hard-won) dissertation, and jockeying for tenure. Graduate students also make the frequent mistake of thinking that their committees are reasonable, logical, well- organized, prompt about returning phone calls and manuscripts, and enjoying a balanced life, happy in their work. Rarely.
At first flash, spirituality and graduate school may seem to conflict. School requires your intellect; spirituality requires your surrender of intellect. School subsists 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, though, I’ve often applied spirituality in my longtime academic practice of coaching and advising doctoral candidates wrestling with their dissertations. Spiritual practices have helped me forgive an ornery client, receive internal guidance for the next step on a daunting project, access the right assuaging words before a difficult meeting, and many other quandaries.
Between bouts of hating what we write, we may secretly admire our creations. And we’re entitled to. But there’s a difference between these feelings and excessive love of our own words. Such love blinds us to editorial blunders, judicious cutting, and revision, and reduces the possibilities of publication.
Whether you are a doctoral student wrestling the drafts of your dissertation or an academic author wrestling with the drafts of your book, you have encountered, or will, the often-intimidating presence and feedback of your chair or editor. As with any interpersonal relationship, it’s advisable to steer between abject obeisance and independent arrogance. Neither will get you what you want—approval of your dissertation or publication of your book.
In my academic editing and coaching profession, I suggest to clients that an optimum way to establish and maintain a good working relationship is a combination of humility and self-respect. Whatever your past accomplishments, humility before the perceived power of the chair or editor is required.