No one understands better the trials of completing a dissertation better than a recent graduate. Pat Bishop recently earned a Doctor of Business Administration degree while serving as the Director of Graduate Studies at Full Sail University. If anyone can offer advice in balancing academic and professional demands, she has it covered.
1. Work late. Plan to head home after work, grab coffee and a snack, and write late into the night. With a dissertation, you have to keep going.
2. Approach your Chair for help. Some people are afraid to do this, but you need a navigator. If not your Chair, someone in your academic community can guide you.
3. Celebrate small achievements. Go out with friends or take a three-day weekend for rest to gear up for the next big stretch of writing.
4. Reach out and connect to your school community early. Other learners are experiencing the same challenges and celebrations.
5. Build your timeline from concept paper to final approval. Keep it visible; tape it up like you would the exercise schedule on the refrigerator!
6. Work smart. Read other dissertations from your school or with the same research approach to understand the framework.
7. Work ahead. It’s okay to give yourself a break, but fill out IRB forms or format the next section of your dissertation to stay ahead of the timeline.
8. Hire a coach who is expert in your research field for an additional set of objective and scholarly eyes.
9. There is a lot to be said for talking to someone. Don’t read too much into email, and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to clarify communication.
10. Use your experience as a student to take a fresh look at objectives in your organization; how would a student perceive and achieve various goals and outcomes as a first time observer?
My favorite tip is about the timeline. My school does not have an official timeline. I asked my Chair about this, and he said completion depends most largely on the quality and speed at which the student submits work. Indeed. Well, I’m heading pronto to Pat’s office to pick up a timeline template.
Does your school have a timeline? Which tip will you add to your work style?