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Grad School Survival: What You MUST Do to Finish Your Thesis
by Dora Farkas, PhD
Grad School Does’t Last Forever
(even if it feels like it will)
Grad school started out really well for me.
I was enamored with my thesis topic (yes, really) and I had a great relationship with my thesis supervisor.
During my first year I had lunch with a postdoc, and I told her how well everything was going.
“Just wait,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“One day, you will be so tired of grad school. During my last last few month I couldn’t stand looking at my thesis anymore.”
I didn’t take her comments seriously.
I assumed that the last semester of grad school would be “rough” because there would be a lot of writing, but I didn’t foresee any other challenges.
But the obstacles came sooner (a lot sooner) than I expected.
At the time I didn’t know that 50% of PhD students dropped out.
Towards the end of my first year in grad school I started feeling like I “should” be further along.
I spent so much time studying for my courses that I didn’t make progress on my thesis topic.
Some of my peers had already presented impressive data at the department seminars.
While I spent a few hours at lab every day, I had little show for my time.
Eventually I started to feel like I wasn’t cut out for grad school.
Before I realized it, these feelings led to a downward spiral in my emotions.
I was ashamed of myself for disappointing my thesis supervisor and parents.
I lost my motivation and I developed a severe case of writer’s block when I had to write my thesis proposal.
By the beginning of my second year, I seriously started to question myself:
“Will this ever or should I quit grad school?”
At the end of my 5th year I became desperate:
“Why can’t I just get this DONE? Everyone else is finishing up, what’s wrong with me?”
Perhaps you can also relate to feeling like an impostor, wondering if you should have ever started.
Looking back, I now see that I could have prevented these self-defeating thoughts with just a few changes to my daily habits.
Grad school is meant to challenge you, but it is not meant to keep you captive, ruin your health or isolate you from your friends.
The tough part is that the habits that worked so well in college
(like working all the time until the semester ended)
will just lead to a burnout in grad school.
But, there is hope.
You are never stuck in grad school.
If you really want to get your thesis done, you MUST implement new habits that get you closer to a finished manuscript.
The good news is that hundreds (probably millions) of students worldwide have already finished their thesis.
If they could do it, you can too.
In fact, if you implement the tips below, finishing your thesis will become inevitable – you WILL get it done.
The best part is that finishing your thesis will make it possible for you to earn a higher income, and improve the quality of your life.
Friday, January 6th 2017 at 1:57PM
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