Sunday, January 13, 2008

The final stretch to the PhD

It is no joke when my seniors say that the ABD stage is the hardest part of Grad School. Even the university is concerned enough to set up a Doctoral Thesis Support Group.

Dear doctoral student,

The University Counseling Center is offering a support group for doctoral students who are working on their thesis. The purpose of the group is to provide a mutually supportive environment for doctoral students to address the academic, professional, and personal challenges involved in completing a doctoral thesis.

Common topics addressed include: maintaining motivation in the face of obstacles, setting achievable goals, and working effectively with one's advisor and committee. The group ideally consists of 6-8 members who can make a commitment to attending weekly sessions that last 1.5 hours. Group members are asked to maintain confidentiality regarding group discussions.

Prospective members will have to meet with me for 15-30 minutes to determine whether the group could be helpful to them.

Warm regards,

(University) Counseling Psychologist

I must remind myself: the best dissertation is a done dissertation. Must avoid the "Dissertation as Magnum Opus" trap. This is what years of conditioning in Grad School have done to me. From someone who used to strive for nothing but As and distinctions, to one who will be happy to just pass.


L'oiseau rebelle said...

Dissertation as Magnum Opus... a friend did that. Really bad idea. Really really really bad idea. (I shall not divulge personal details publicly - although he's very, very unlikely to be reading this blog. Let's just say, a shitload of unnecessary stress.)

Christopher said...

Having a support group is indeed interesting. In France, the pressure to finish the dissertation is high as PhD funding usually finishes after a limited amount of time. Either the lack of funding forces one to hand up a lousy PhD dissertation or one is resourceful/lucky enough to obtain alternative funding and drag on for a year or two. To quit and find a well paying job (having a PhD doesn't pay much better than an engineer here) that enables one to have family and a decent career is a very tempting option.

I'm into my final year of funding and hopefully, I will muster enough courage and determination to finish it. Otherwise, I don't think I ever will. The problem is to know how much is enough. Very often the sight of the amount of work left before one thinks one can start writing the dissertation is pretty daunting. The most practical advice I got was to start writing regardless the state of research.

ttw said...

I'm jealous... I want access to such a support group too, if only for an answer to the question: What does one do when one harbours homicidal thoughts towards one's advisor?

The Magnum Opus stage was given up as a lost cause a loooong time ago. Heh.