Ah, The Life Of The Doctoral Student.
So much thrill getting in…
Then so much frustration trying to get out.
You’re not alone.
I feel your pain: I was once a Doctoral student, too.
But I got done — and out.
If you’re a perfectionist and still trying to figure out your research problem, or your goal is to write a dissertation that answers and solves all matters in your field, please note:
Only 52 to 57 percent of Doctoral students complete their degrees.
Has that statistic sunk in yet?
That’s just one Doctoral completion for every two that enters the hallowed doors of academia!
And, if you had asked folks in your department or program, you’d have found that among those that eventually joined the ranks of “Dr.”-dom, many took 6, 7, 8, or 9 years to graduate.
Now let’s do some simple arithmetic here.
Let’s say Johnny Too-Good is so brilliant that he was offered admission to a number of Doctoral programs at prestigious universities soon after his Bachelor’s.
If he chooses Grad school in America, he’ll likely spend three years completing his coursework, then realize he’s one course short, because of a conflict in course scheduling or a change in departmental rules, or for whatever reason.
Now he’s told he can’t take his Comprehensives till he’s completed that last course.
That adds another one, perhaps two, semester(s) which he hadn’t expected.
Finally he gets to take his Comprehensives, and passes.
There’s still the Research Proposal… Proposal meeting with his committee… IRB approval… Research Protocol… and other hurdles… before he can even start on the actual research.
Then it’s perhaps another two years devoted to research.
Before he knows it, Grad school funding has come to an end.
Here’s where he has to make a tough decision — find a job, quickly, which means dropping out of Grad school (but how does he account for those four or five years)…?!
Or continue the slog — self- (or parental- or spouse-) funded — till he’s finally done with his research and dissertation writing, and his adviser and committee members have approved…
If he chooses this route, it could take 7 to 10 years to graduate, by which time he could be 35 — or older.
That’s the best case scenario.
Then there’s the worse… and worst… case possibilities.
What if, by the time you’re finally done writing your dissertation…
- Your adviser decides to take a 12-month sabbatical the semester you’d hoped to “be done” [this scenario happens more often than you think]…
- One of your committee members dies, or decides to retire, or didn’t get tenure and has to move to another university [the odds of any of these is greater than the odds of a Year 6 student completing his degree]…
- In the time it’s taken you to compile and complete your research data, some post-Doc somewhere has already published earth-shattering findings that could make your research redundant — and (ouch!) you now have to include his findings in your Literature Review [this, too, has happened]…
- Some personal, medical, or family situation requires your full attention, and writing your dissertation has to be placed on the backburner [sadly, this category accounts for most of the Non-Completes]…
See how easy it is to become one of the 48 percent that remain perpetually ABD (all but dissertation) — i.e., the Dropouts or Non-Completes.
Really, the odds are not in any Doctoral student’s favor.
If you are serious about getting done with your Doctoral degree, and if you truly want to finally put an end to your ABD status… you need to Contact Me.
Let’s get you done — and out.
I’m sure your stakeholders will agree: The sooner, the better.
Copyright 2012-2019. Dr. Serene Lim, PhD and The Thesis Doctor. All Rights Reserved.