You’ve been in school for a few years now, and you’re ready to take the next big step: you want to complete your PhD program. You’ve got experience under your belt, and you know what it takes to be a successful student. This blog post is for doctorate students who are still trying to get out of their doctoral program. You know who you are…the students who have been trying to finish your dissertation for what seems like forever but can’t seem to make any progress. If you’re reading this and nodding your head in agreement, here are five steps that will help you get there.
These 5 Steps will help you Pursue your PhD program (Doctorate) without any Hassles:
1) Identify your Goals!
- The first step is to identify what it is that you want to accomplish. Many people think of this in terms of degrees (such as a bachelor’s, master’s or a doctorate), but it might also be helpful to think about your goals in terms of accomplishments or skills. For example, one way of thinking about completing a PhD program is as an accomplishment—the thing you did when you finished. You might have accomplished many things along the way: writing a dissertation, participating in research projects, teaching classes, etc.
- Once you’ve identified your goals for completing your degree, create a plan for achieving those goals. This plan will help you stay organized and informed about the progress you’ve made so far and what still needs to be done. Consider breaking down your goals into smaller steps, such as tasks related to the writing of your dissertation or tasks related to applying for jobs after graduation.
- Build on that list by identifying what specific steps you need to take to achieve each item on the list. For example, if one of your goals is to travel around Europe, you might need to save money for plane tickets and find time off from work. Once you’ve identified the steps, try making deadlines for when you want each task done by.
- Now, take this list and rewrite it as a set of goals that are required for your PhD program (e.g., “get into graduate school,” “complete coursework,” “write a thesis”). This will help put these goals in perspective and plan out the rest.
2) Get Organized!
In order to get organized, there are a few things you should do:
- Get a calendar—don’t rely on your phone or computer calendar when it comes to keeping track of important dates in your life.
- Make sure you have access to all of your important documents at any time.
- Consider getting an app for organizing your life (there are tons for both Apple and Android devices).
- Set goals for yourself that will keep you motivated to finish school (e.g., “I will submit my thesis proposal by x date”).
- Finally, make sure you have fun! Remember that this is supposed to be a great learning experience, so don’t feel bad if you need to take a bit of extra time away from studying once in a while.
3) Do Research on How to do your Research!
- Research is one of the most important parts of a doctorate, but many students still have trouble with it. Since some information about research can be hard to find, I’ve made a list of five easily-found things that can help you with your own research.
- First, do some general research on how to do research in a PhD program. These articles will tell you what to expect, how long it takes to get your degree, and how to design your study.
- Second, start reading the journals that are related to your field. Make sure you understand what the articles are saying and make connections between them. This will help you create a solid foundation for your study.
- Third, decide what form your research will take before you start designing it. Will it be an experiment? A survey? Or something else? Your decision will affect the whole rest of your research process, so make sure you know for sure before moving forward.
4) Put everything in its place – Both Physically and Mentally for your PhD program!
- When you’re a doctorate student, it’s easy to let your work pile up all around you. Whether it’s the seemingly endless stream of coursework assignments, grant proposals, journal articles, or just general research notes, it can be easy to feel like you’re drowning in schoolwork.
- In order to make sure you stay afloat, and to have an easier time finding the information you need when you need it, try taking the time to actually put everything into its proper place.
- To figure out what needs to be done first, start with a list of everything that’s on your plate. Make sure that nothing is left off—this will help prevent things from falling through the cracks later on down the line.
- While making this list, don’t forget about all the smaller things that add up over time: research material and notes that are scattered throughout your apartment or workspace (those stuffy library books could probably use new homes on your bookshelf), old papers or test prep guides that need throwing out or recycling, and even broken supplies (fix them now while they’re still under warranty).
- Once you’ve got your long list of responsibilities laid out from top to bottom, sort each item category by priority. Then start tackling each one in turn. If possible.
5) Don’t Burn Out!
- There are two main things that can cause you to burn out in your doctorate. The first is a lack of support from your advisor and/or department.
- Not having someone to turn to during tough times or someone who will advocate for you if you need more time or help can be soul crushing. It’s important to find the right person and not get stuck with a bad egg.
- The second thing is more controllable: the amount of time and effort you put into it each day.
- Spending hours every night and weekend working on your research isn’t sustainable, even if it’s what you want to do.
- A PhD program is supposed to be a career starter, not a job. You should enjoy it, not resent it.
- If you’re spending all of your free time working on it and getting overwhelmed. Take some time off to pursue other interests and relax.
- You’ll come back refreshed and able to work more productively than ever before.
Completing a PhD program is a long and difficult process. It takes at least 7 years, and during that time you have to balance taking classes, tutoring, working on research while doctorate. Applying for fellowships, applying for jobs, and learning how to handle the ups and downs of academia. The post talks about how to plan your time. How to choose a topic. How to adjust your schedule when you’re struggling with a chapter. And how to know when it’s time to give up. and move on.