Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Joining in

Hi everyone. I came across this Blog while searching, in desparation, for information on NOT dying while completing a dissertation. I am glad that this exists, as I really need the support.

I started my D.Sc. in Aersopace Egineering in Sept 2003. I was very lucky to get all my coursework done and my qualifying exams completed by May 2006- I even took extra classes in math and physics, and had a COOP that I did full and part time from May 2005 through May 2007. But, life has caught up with me. I had a daughter in May 2007, and have spent the past year really focused on her, and and therefore have suffered complete brain drain. it feels like I have forgotten EVERYTHING I ever learned. So now it is time to either do it or quit it. And it seems just paralyzing.

Luckily my advisor has been understanding, so the last year I have beasically been off the hook. But that is at an end. And my COOP is allowing me to be on Leave without Pay to finish the dissertation, then I will basically (90% sure) have a job waiting when I am done (or able to verify substantially complete). So I am in the stage of "get off my butt". And with the economy the way it is, I can't afford to not work for more than about another 1.5 years (I think my husband's patience is starting to wear a little thin...).

I am trying to motivate myself and it's been very hard. There are a million other things to do with my daugther and around the house, but I don't want to fail this. I guess I am just looking for a place where I am not alone, some resources on planning out and structuring my research, and just some "been there, done that" encouragement.

Thanks all,


Meagan said...

Hi Kathleen! It's good to have you here. Sounds like you've got a lot going on-- I can't imagine having a kid while messing with all this, but there are plenty of people who manage it somehow. I'm rooting for you.

Just wondering-- what's a COOP?

C said...

Two hours a day. Make it the first thing you do each day - even if it's only for 20 minutes. That way you can put the diss on your brain early and, if need be, take it off your brain early. And at the end of the day at least you've done *something* with the diss. This strategy will help with anxiety issues and it will help keep you moving in a positive direction (i.e. towards the light at the end of the tunnel).

The key, though, is putting in time EVERY DAY.

Good luck!

Abby said...

Hats off to you for getting this far. You CAN finish. I'm not sure I can give you any advice about how exactly to schedule that. I don't have children, so I'm not sure how scheduling would work with your daughter. I have a friend who is working on her dissertation almost solely at night, when she puts her daughter to bed, or after her husband gets home from work. But that's her situation.

I, too, took a year sort of "off," -- although not for as good a reason -- and I know what you mean about feeling like you've forgotten everything. It will come back to you.

It was helpful to me to remember that the dissertation isn't your final word on the subject. It's just a draft of a draft of a draft of a book (or some articles). You don't have to say every single thing and you don't have to say it perfectly. Just keep in mind that a good dissertation is a done dissertation.

liquid distance said...

Wow, these are all very constructive helpful comments so I guess I can only say go for it. The two-hours-a-day solution suggested by c sounds right for me. I myself have done most of my progress, meaning presentable parts for a chapter, right after I wake up. Perhaps I would try working four hours everyday even if that means waking up two hours earlier, which you could compensate with a couple 20-mins power naps during the day when the baby is sleeping.

Billie said...

Welcome, Kathleen! You know, sometimes I think it's a myth that one can go to grad school and not worry about paying the rent or rearing children or doing any of those things that life demands. (I'm sure it happens, but we don't like those people!)

Hang in there, though. It'll get done. As C said, write each day. But remember, sometimes work on the diss isn't just writing, it's research, it's formatting, it's constructing a bibliography.... touch the diss each day in some way.

spacecase1 said...

Thanks for the welcome!! Meagan- A COOP is a Cooperative Education Program - so I can work for a company/gov't agency part or full time and get COOP credits on my transcripts- they don't count as real credits and I don't pay for the credit, but it helps in the sense that if I am part time for credits and part time at work, I get to be considered by the university as full time for enrollment purposes (and jury duty!!!).
And I think I am going to aim for 3 hours everyday this week to "kick start" my research. I also love Billie's idea of the timer so I don't find a reason to get up and do soemthing else!!