Don’t stop working on the dissertation until you’re finished, and learn from “Painful People”

Doctor of Philosophy DegreeThe following message was posted as part of the Dissertation House’s blog within the “Winter 2014 Challenge” thread.  It is repeated here so that those who read the general blog, will receive the message as well. At the time of the original post, there were 112 messages. Now, there are 134. Good job “DHers!”

The Winter 2014 Challenge thread is here: Feel free to join. The thread will be active until the end of June 2014.


January 23, 2014

Buenos tardes a todos!!/Good afternoon to everyone!!

Estoy en Ecuador y estoy muy feliz porque hay 112 mesajes aqui!/I am in Ecuador and am very happy because there are 112 messages here!

Congratulations to all of you on your persistence! What does your persistence mean? If you blogged in during the snow storm, you have already proven that you have what it takes. You have drive and determination. That is a large part of the battle. The Dissertation House exists to assist you with navigating the process and adding “knowledge of the process” to your enthusiasm.

My message for you today is simple:

1) Don’t stop until you’re done!
Dr. Carter-Veale, Dr. Cortes, and some of you have seen people in the DH who felt frustrated, tired, and upset, BUT … they finished. They defended, handed in their dissertations, and walked across the stage with the big robe and the thick bars on their arms. That will be you … soon.

2) Pay close attention to the tips that you will receive in the DH.
These are tried and tested methods. With a pure heart, I ask you to “just do it.”

3) As much as possible, stay in close contact with your advisor.
Your advisor needs to know that you are working.You also want to be sure that you are on the right page and that the expectations are in sync.

4) Utilize the community that is being established in the DH. It helps!
Working on the dissertation does not have to be a lonely, isolated process. You are now surrounded by a community of scholars with like minds and goals. There’s energy there. Feed on it. Use it. Bask in it!

5) Embrace the process.
This is the hard one. The process is difficult, but there are parts of the process that are worth the frustration. The dissertation process teaches you how to deal with long-term projects, how to deal with contrasting personalities (e.g., your committee), how to deal with rejection, and how to handle your own emotions. This is a maturation process. You may not know all of the answers, but you learn how to investigate solutions, and you learn to think through options. You may not like all of the people with whom you’re working, but you learn how to negotiate for what you need, and you learn to appreciate the strengths that people bring to the table, regardless of whether or not you care for them personally. You can still learn from “Painful People.” You can still learn from people, even when they aren’t providing information or assistance in a way that is amiable or projecting a feeling of giving. Take what they provide and find its worth. Above all, learn to appreciate the process of becoming more adept in your field.

Overall, I’m sorry that I’m not there in person for this session, but feel free to make an appointment with me to talk when I return to UMBC in February. Good luck to all of you! Congratulations on your hard work and keep it up. Those letters … “P,” “h,” and “D,” are dangling, hanging around, waiting for you to finish so that they can accompany your name!

Best regards,
Renetta Tull


The Dissertation House is a program of PROMISE: Maryland’s AGEP

Dr. Wendy Carter-Veale is the “Head Coach” for the Dissertation House.

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What is dissertation house?

The Dissertation House program is an intensive writing retreat designed to help graduate students overcome the barriers that often impede progress on their dissertations. Developed by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the program provides a supportive and structured environment where students can focus on their writing, receive feedback, and learn effective time management and goal-setting strategies. Over several days, students work in groups, participate in workshops, and receive coaching from experienced facilitators. The Dissertation House program has been highly successful in helping students make significant progress on their dissertations. It is widely regarded as a valuable resource for graduate students seeking to complete their degrees.


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