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Do Not Leave Graduate School Before You Get Your Degree | FinishLine, Tips Tools Techniques for Completing a Thesis or Dissertation from Dr Wendy Carter

August, 2007 spacerVolume 3, Issue 8

In This Issue:

"It's not who you know, it's who knows you back."
-Walter Annenberg (1908-2002), U.S. Media Executive, Publisher and Diplomat

10 Mistakes Graduate Students Should Avoid:
Mistake #6: Dismissing the Power of the Administrative Staff

A lot of students, at the start of their graduate careers, are a little confused about the role of the administrative staff. What can the administrative staff do for you that your own advisor cannot? It doesn't take more than a few weeks on campus to figure out that the administrative staff can be a critical departmental resource, with a broad perspective on funding, program choices, international problem-solving, and much more. From orientation to commencement, they offer professional and experienced support to help you make the most of your graduate years.

Often, the departmental staff is a tightly knit team, whose members have their own specialties but sets the departmental culture, shares an overall philosophy, and a general understanding of departmental and graduate school matters.

Success in graduate school is due to more than just intelligence and raw brain power. It is also strongly affected by dedication, hard work, seriousness of commitment, clarity of goals, a willingness to embrace the values of a program, and develop your interpersonal skills.

One of the most frequent mistakes made by graduate students is underestimating or de-valuing the role of the professional administrative staff in their department.  These professionals serve as the “gatekeepers” to faculty, advisors and committee members and, as such, can either hinder or propel your educational progress.

The administrative staff is also responsible for managing students’ records, paperwork and information, and providing timely information on all department deadlines, rules, regulations and eligibility requirements with respect to course requirements, course scheduling, qualifying/preliminary exams, funding opportunities and necessary signatures.  The relationship you have built with these staffers may determine whether or not they take the time or effort to remind you of upcoming deadlines and requirements.  It is definitely in your best interest to manage these relationships in a positive way.

Your success in graduate school and beyond depends a great deal upon your ability to build and maintain interpersonal relationships with your adviser, your committee, your fellow students, and the administrative staff. This does not mean you must become the "life of the party," but your visibility in your department is important.

Walter Annenberg says, "It's not who you know, it's who knows you back." In other words, you can know the names or have the business cards of many important and influential people but if they don't like you or aren't motivated to help you--it doesn't matter who you know. 

Even if you are not an extrovert, move beyond your shyness and take full advantage of getting to know the professional staff who share the responsibility of pointing you toward the people and resources that best meet your needs. You have to make a concerted effort to  learn and practice your interpersonal skills i.e. learning the names and working styles of the research and support staff who work tirelessly to keep the department functioning.

Your intent is to set up a “win-win” situation where all parties benefit from the exchange, whether immediately or sometime in the future. Why should this matter, you may ask, because success in graduate school is completely different from your undergraduate days. You cannot get through graduate school without help.  Your success depends on your relationship with your advisor, your lab mates, your fellow students, experts in your field, you academic committee, and the administrative staff.

Students usually look down on networking, or politicking, “brown nosing,” “kissing up” but networking in its most basic, positive form is simply the art of building and maintaining relationships.   Since no one person, such as your advisor, has access to all information and resources in your department, networking provides you with multiple avenues to get the information and resources you might need to get things done.  This skill will serve you well in the future.

Ronald T. Azuma concurs when he writes in "So long, and thanks for the Ph.D.!"

“Unlike your advisor, the critical group was the research and support staff. These include the research faculty and all the various support positions (the system administrators, network administrators, audio-visual experts, electronic services, optical and mechanical engineers, and especially the secretaries). I needed their help to get my research done, but they did not directly need me. Consequently, you need to make it a priority to establish and maintain good working relationships with the administrative staff.”

Further, he suggests that “Cultivating interpersonal relationships is mostly about treating people with respect and determining their different working styles. Give credit where credit is due. Acknowledge and thank them for their help. Return favors. Respect their expertise, advice and time. Apologize if you are at fault. Realize that different people work in different ways and are motivated by different things — the more you understand this diversity, the better you will be able to interact and motivate them to help you. “

Treat everyone you meet with respect and courtesy. Networking is a two-way street: the people who help you may later ask you for assistance. Asking if you can provide such assistance after being helped is an effective way of letting people know how much you appreciate their help.  Be genuine in finding creative ways to say thank you and return favors when asked.


101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life

Have you had a chance to check out the new book, “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life: Volume 3:? It is a compilation of 101 articles with practical, solid advice on how you can take action and improve your life. I am extremely excited to be a part of this, and am equally excited to be a contributing author along with Ken Blanchard, Les Brown, Mark Victor Hansen, Byron Katie and many other leading Self Improvement experts.

This book is the third volume in the “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life” Series. Volumes 1& 2 include secrets from Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Jack Canfield, Dr. Richard Carlson and many other people living a successful life. If you haven't seen Volumes 1 & 2, check them out. Right now the publisher is offering, a special discount plus great bonus gifts If you purchase the three volume set together.

To get more information or buy a copy, just go to: http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/?Clk=1815028

 


Email Question of the Month:

Q:

Dr. Carter,

I want to thank you for the inspiration your workshop, TADA CD and newsletters have been to me while I completed my master’s thesis. I first attended a workshop that you lead at the American Sociological Association 2005 annual meeting in Philadelphia. I learned a great deal in those two hours about the process of writing a thesis, which was a great first step. The knowledge I gained in that short workshop assisted me during the complete process from the proposal, into the data collection and analysis phases, the writing and through to the defense. I am proud to say I completed my thesis “A Sociological Analysis of Exotic Dancers” and received my Master of Arts in Sociology May of 2007. I would like to rework parts of my thesis into journal articles to submit for publication. Do you have any advice or suggestions?

I would like to begin a doctoral program next fall. My issue is not only writing the admission applications, but I do not know how to choose a school. As I do not have geographical restraints, I am willing to move which opens many more options. Do you have advice about how to choose which universities to apply to and the application process? What type of questions should I ask about dissertations and faculty? Do you have any suggestions for searching for a mentor?

Thank you for the amazing service you provide and I look forward to repeating the process with my dissertation.
Melissa L.

A:

Hello Melissa,

Glad to hear from you. Congrats on finishing your Master's thesis. Before you pursue a PhD you need to first think about why you need to pursue a PhD. Do you want to become a professor? Do you want to work in a think tank? Do you want to work for a research institution? Afterwards, when thinking about where you might go to graduate school you might consider the following questions:

  • What type of research are you interested in?
  • Who is doing that type of research?
  • Where is this person who is doing this research?
  • When you take a campus visit, ask what is the average time students in this department take to complete their degree?
  • Are there opportunities to co-publish with faculty?
  • What type of funding is available to support graduate students?
  • How long are these awards guaranteed for?
  • Talk to students on campus or alumni from the institution that to see what their experience was like?
  • Is there Graduate student housing available?
  • Do I need to write another thesis?
  • Do I need to Minor in something?
  • Can I transfer any credits as part of my minor?

I hope that these questions inspire you to come up with more questions that are important in helping you make your decision.

Dr. Carter


TA-DA!™ Graduates —
Congratulations on Your Success

God has truly blessed me up to this point and I know He's going to carry me through. I have finalized the date for my dissertation defense for June 21,2007 at 9am in ECS 210 Conference room. The first portion of the defense is open to the public. I look forward to completing this chapter of my life and spending time chasing my WALKING baby girls around the house. Take care and be blessed!!!!!
Oliver J. M. UMBC

Lisa M. from Morgan State is ready to defend her dissertation in August 22, 2007.

DeAnna B from Morgan State who will defend her dissertatin proposal.

George from the Dissertation House at UMBC who handed in a first draft of his proposal


101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life

Have you had a chance to check out the new book, 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life: Volume 3:? It is a compilation of 101 articles with practical, solid advice on how you can take action and improve your life. I am extremely excited to be a part of this, and am equally excited to be a contributing author along with Ken Blanchard, Les Brown, Mark

This book is the third volume in the “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life” Series. Volumes 1& 2 include secrets from Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Jack Canfield, Dr. Richard Carlson and many other people living a successful life. If you haven't seen Volumes 1 & 2, check them out. Right now the publisher is offering, a special discount plus great bonus gifts If you purchase the three volume set together.

To get more information or buy a copy, just go to: http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/?Clk=1815028.


What TA-DA!™ Users Have to Say...

If you're still wondering whether or not TA-DA! Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished™ can help you — don’t take our word for it. Take a few moments to read what some of our customers have told us. See how TA-DA!™ helped them...

Ph.D. Doctoral Students…

•  I am just beginning my doctoral coursework but I wanted to get a jump on this thesis stuff so I purchased your product just about the same time I enrolled in my classes! Darlene G

•  Hello Dr. Carter, I met with you a few months ago. I had an impossible deadline to meet: to complete my dissertation proposal in 6 weeks time. I just wanted you to know that I successfully defended the proposal on October 3rd!! Thanks for your help and encouragement! All the best, Harriette W.

•  TA-DA provided me with some useful ideas for how to use short amounts of time that would normally be unproductive completing small tasks that move the dissertation forward. Donnell B.

•  How it (TADA) Helped: In many ways but I will mainly highlight two areas for now. 1. The TADA Calender. The main problem I faced before was how to get down and do my work. But with the TADA Calender, I have made a committment and I everyday I have the motivation to fulfill this commitment. 2. The 12 Minutes Tasks. I was never even aware of some of those requirements. Now I feel more confident since each day I know exactly what is expected of me and I can make an exact plan of how to accomplish them. Dear colleagues in Thesis/Dissertation writing. Anybody wanting to have a peace of mind and confidence in whatever she/he does during the whole Thesis/Dissertation writing, you have no choice but to buy the TADA CD. I won't explain what wonders it will do to you, but buy it and experience it."   Connie, U.K.

•  The commitment to a deadline and to working 12 minutes a day actually reduces stress. I can always do 12 minutes--even if I'm tired, sick, uninspired or grumpy. Facing a deadline makes it feel like I will actually get done! "I have to do my 12 minutes" we say in our house these days. I've been progressing steadily on my dissertation by committing to 12 minutes, and my husband has covered huge amounts of material for an upcoming professional exam. My friend has committed to completing the annulment papers she has procrastinated on for 10 years, and my father-in-law has started studying Spanish 12 minutes a day. Thanks!
Christine, Seattle, WA

•  It helped me to set goals for my chapters and give me some practical strategies for finishing. Also I believe it's good to list your finish date. It gives you something to strive for rather than letting the thesis become nebulous. Martha; Albany, CA

•  TA-DA explains the dissertation process and lifts the curtain to a process that seems impossible to accomplish. It provides strategy for selecting the committee and provides timelines that enable accomplishment of the dissertation within a specific time frame.
Randall; USMC Jacksonville, NC

•  The program helped me to understand the dissertation concept much better. I am a visual individual; the tutorial was a great help.
Deborah; U.S. Army

Master’s Thesis Students …

•  It has helped with the fact that my graduate school does not have a formal format for the proposal. The Journal has helped a lot.
Talia; Naranjito, Puerto Rico

 •  This is a great tool for those who will be starting either their Master's Degree or Dissertation. I highly recommend it.
Teresa; Naguabo, Puerto Rico

•  Requesting that I set a goal date for finishing, kept me focused and it was the first step in accomplishing the task. Also, I kept remembering the words; a good thesis is a done thesis.
Gladys; NY, NY

•  It guided me to a fair start. Gracias!
Jess; San Francisco, CA


 

Sincerely,

Wendy Y. Carter, Ph.D.
email: drcarter@tadafinallyfinished.com
www.tadafinallyfinished.com

About the Author: As a single mother, professor Wendy Y. Carter, Ph.D., completed three masters' degrees and a PhD. Her motto is a Good Thesis/Dissertation is a Done Thesis/Dissertation. She is the creator of a new innovative interactive resource tool on CD—TADA! Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished. To learn more and sign up for her FREE tips and teleclasses, contact us at info@tadafinallyfinished.com. Privacy is our policy. TADA™ Finishline does not give out or sell our subscribers' names or e-mail addresses.

Published monthly.
To subscribe to FinishLine, see below.

Inside This Issue:

10 Mistakes Graduate Students Should Avoid: Mistake #6: Dismissing the Power of the Administrative Staff

Email Q & A of the Month

Congratulations Graduates

What TA-DA!™
Users Say

Dr. Carter Is Co-author of a New Book


Next FinishLine Features:

10 Mistakes Graduate Students Should Avoid: Mistake #7: Assuming Your Advisor/Principal Investigator Knows More About Your Project Than You



 

 



Dr. Carter's
Recommendations:

Getting What You Came For...
The book explains the entire process of completing graduate school, from selecting and applying to a graduate program to obtaining a teaching position. Selected chapters provide overall practical advice on selecting an advisor, managing the committee, selecting a topic, writing a proposal, writing the dissertation, and preparing for the defense.

Getting What You Came For...
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The Dissertation Cook Book
The authors uses a cookbook metaphor define the ingredients of a dissertation. This book provides useful information on each section of the five-chapter dissertation common in the social and behavioral sciences. It also contains practical tips, hands-on exercises, and checklists dealing with getting started, choosing a topic, types of research instruments, statistics, sampling, and analyzing data. Most of the information is relevant for writers at the proposal stage.

The Dissertation Cook Book
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The Artist's Way
This book by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan leads you through a comprehensive twelve-week program to recover your creativity from a variety of blocks, including limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, replacing them with artistic confidence and productivity.

The Artist's Way
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