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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Treading Waters of Dissertation Ocean

I earned the status of Doctoral Candidate last year and it felt awesome after several years of working full time and taking classes.  Since my undergrad and Master's degrees are both from a fairly small university with not much emphasis on research (Master's thesis was a joke, really), it has not been easy to adjust but I did well in all classes.  Well, stats courses were quite a challenge...  I made two As in hands-on stats courses and two well-earned Bs in theory stats courses where I worked very hard but blind memorization teaching approach simply does not work for me.  It was frustrating to see these two instructors turn to the whiteboard and scribble for two hours, then glance back and ask if there were any questions.  Well, what do you think???  So I memorized and hoped for the best.  I loved hands-on courses and still remember (and frequently use) the skills and knowledge learned there.  Many thanks to those two instructors!

After earning my candidacy, the next logical step would have been to at least get through prospectus defense but, unfortunately, there was too much going on and I was burned out.  So here I am, more than a year later, still treading waters of dissertation ocean...  Oh, I never stopped looking for information and writing bits and pieces, hence "treading" and not "drowning." 

I kept telling myself that I simply need to make time but it's not happening so I am looking for ways to reduce responsibilities.  I am teaching full time and TAing two courses and can't stop doing either because of financial strain -- had to take out student loans and trying to pay them off as soon as possible.  However, (1) I was able to negotiate reduced committee work, (2) I am teaching only two preps next semester, for the first time ever, and (3) I made a committment not to accept any conference presentations because they distract me from dissertation work and traveling consumes too much time.  The goal is to defend prospectus early next semester, run the study halfway through the semester, and write over Christmas break.

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