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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

October, 2007 spacerVolume 3, Issue 10

In This Issue:

10 Mistakes Graduate Students Should Avoid:
Mistake #8: Looking for a Friend When You Need an Expert

I get plenty of emails asking me what to do if the advisor is not an expert in the student’s academic field, is unfamiliar with the student’s topic or the student does not get along with the advisor.

Success in graduate school often depends on a successful mentoring relationship between you and your advisor. Because graduate school is based on the apprenticeship model, admittance to a graduate school ideally will mean that there are potential advisors available in the student’s areas of interest. Hopefully you did your homework of trying to match your area of interest with department faculty’s area of expertise before applying to graduate school.

Choosing a good advisor is critical to your success in graduate school. This relationship is one that will extend beyond your graduation. It is important that you choose correctly. While a friend is nice, you need an advisor with influence. Although an assistant professor has just finished graduate school and can relate more closely to your experience, in general, picking an assistant professor is unwise; s/he has very little influence in the department. This is a professional relationship, not a social one.

Many graduate students make the mistake of choosing an advisor or principal investigator solely on the basis of race, gender and/or a comfortable personal and working relationship. While these are certainly key elements in selecting an advisor, there are also many other factors to consider. While it is relatively rare to encounter a truly “bad” mentor, there are a wide variety of mentoring styles and environments; some may suit you better than others. Finding an enthusiastic expert and cheerleader is critical for your success.

Without much knowledge of the selection process your expectations of the role of the advisor might be unrealistic. Don’t expect that the role of the academic advisor to be that of “loco parentis” or “academic parent”. Although it’s natural to sometimes want someone to tell you exactly what to do, your advisor expects you to be a mature person who can direct your own life. For example, what do you think about your own work? How do you feel you can better focus your project?

An advisor truly expects you to carve out your own research and form your own plans regarding how to accomplish your goals. You must be the one to take charge of your own research. To do so, you will need to map out time points and milestones that will keep you focused and on track. Writing a proposal is a good way to pinpoint what you plan to do in your dissertation and research area. Without a proposal, you could be led anywhere! An advisor can sometimes be like a butterfly eagerly jumping about from the discovery of one neat new flower to the next; he wants to explore and pursue every new idea! A thesis proposal (complete with a “Plan B” fallback plan) will not only keep you focused, but also help to reign in your advisor’s enthusiasm for every new idea and possibility.

Remember, you and your advisor should be enthusiastic about your thesis or dissertation topic. When selecting a selecting a topic you have to think of whom on the faculty is an expert on that topic and would be willing to work with you. Prior to your interview for an advisor, consider writing a three-page draft of a proposal to discuss with your potential advisor. Be sure to ask if the faculty member is planning a sabbatical in the next two years.

Selecting the right advisor is critical to your success in graduate school. Your advisor can propel or hinder your academic progress. As a graduate student you have very little power in your academic department. Hence, you need to select an advisor who can be an advocate for you. To be your best advocate, your advisor should have tenure and the respect of his peers. As chair of your committee, peer respect will be invaluable when your advisor has to supervise the other committee members and facilitate your defense hearing. Most important in this relationship, your mentor should be someone that you can respect as well

Finding the optimal graduate training environment for YOU is balanced by your own interests; the interests and style of your mentor; and how you function in a particular mentor’s lab environment.

You can get some feel for the interests and style of a potential mentor by inquiring among other graduate students, particularly current and former students of professors. For young professors just starting out, you may need to check with people they have worked with in the past

Another way to evaluate a potential mentor is by completing a rotation in his or her lab. If your school offers lab rotation, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity. Lab rotation offers the opportunity to familiarize yourself with many advisors’ work styles and personalities, as well as to explore in depth different fields that you might find interesting (e.g., biology vs. molecular biology, computer science vs. information systems).


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 just wanted to thank you for all of your help Dr. Carter. This Friday at 4 PM I am defending my thesis at the International Media Center-back room.

Do you have any advice?

Would you have time to come?

Edward W.

A:

Edward Congratulations on getting your Master's Thesis done.

Here a my newsletter on preparing for a defense.

I wish you all the best.

Dr. Carter


TA-DA!™ Graduates —
Congratulations on Your Success

Dr. Carter, ....I wanted to thank you again for all of your help and let you know that I am extremely grateful for all of your efforts. Edward, (Master's Thesis)


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 #8: Looking for a Friend When You Need an Expert

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 #9: Not maintaining consistent and meaningful contact with the committee as the Thesis/dissertation unfolds



 



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...
Buy

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
Buy

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
Buy



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