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I've finally got a viva date... it's in 2 weeks eek...

If too feel uncomfortable in interview-type situations, so I prepared by presenting to a friend, and answering his questions. Although he didn't have the same expertise as the examiners, I found it helpful just to verbalize my ideas, and get my cerebral juices flowing, so to speak. I recommend it if you can find a willing victim - er, I mean friend.

I've finally got a viva date... it's in 2 weeks eek...

Congratulations! That must be such a great relief! You probably won't read this until you're done preparing...but good luck!!

Move or Stay? (New Orleans to Baton Rouge)

Hi DeesBees09! First, congratulations on your acceptance! As far as my own experience as a PhD student in the U.S., when I began my program, I lived half an hour from campus, but also worked on campus. So, I was there all day, every day. I got to know a lot of students and professors, including those outside of my own department. I didn't realize it at the time, but in retrospect, these relationships became invaluable, especially toward the end of my program when some challenges came up in my personal life that threatened to derail my ability to finish the degree.

To keep a long story short, my spouse became very ill, and we ended up moving 90 minutes away from the uni. At this point, I had already completed all of my course work, and was solely doing the research for my dissertation project. My supervisor was very supportive, and we conferenced by phone whenever I couldn't make it to campus. I also changed jobs, but still had a long commute to work. Although it was possible to get reading and writing done on the trains while commuting, it was not ideal. For example, if the train happened to be noisy or crowded, I felt frustrated, and it put me in a foul mood. (If you're planning to drive, it will be impossible to use the time constructively. Just something to think about.)

Everyone's different, but based on my own experience, I would move to Baton Rouge in order to be close to the academic community on campus. Time becomes so very precious when you're a PhD student, and you don't want to waste it running back and forth. It also helps to be near people who understand what you're going through. Needless to say, it's also valuable to meet people who can share information about opportunities in your field. Although it sounds like you'll miss the city, now that you have friends in New Orleans, it could actually be nice to have New Orleans as a place to get away when you need a break from everything.

On the other hand, an important factor is whether or not it's more cost effective for you to stay in New Orleans and commute. Have you worked this out on paper yet? Is there a significant difference in rent?

I'm writing this in a bit of a rush, but hope it makes sense. Good luck with everything!

Advice needed: Masters then PhD. vs. PhD.

One of the things you may want to look at when comparing schools is where their PhD English lit graduates end up working. If a school has a good alumni services network, that's a good sign! My graduate school has a great career services department that includes an alumni mentoring program, frequent job fairs, job announcements via listserv, proofreading services for your curriculum vitae and employment application essays, etc.

I would also recommend researching professors with whom you think you would like to work. You don't have to decide your dissertation topic now, of course, but you probably have a general idea of where you want to specialize. Read their articles. If you find someone who seems to be a good match with your interests, if possible, stop by her or his office for a brief chat.

It's just my opinion, but these are two things to consider when making your decision. Good luck!

Had not finnished phd in time

Well, he should probably schedule an appointment with the provost to find out the procedures and paperwork involved in appealing the dismissal, if that's a possibility at this point in time. At my uni, it's possible to make an appeal in cases where the student or immediate family member was seriously ill, or some catastrophic problem occured.

I don't know about completing it at another university. I imagine the previous dismissal won't look good on his application, and it may be difficult to get good recommendations from professors because of it. But if it's something he really wants, he can probably find a solution. Good luck!

This is just all wrong

Quote From Havinalaugh:

Never again will I settle for not being happy and not enjoying what I do every day. Life is just too short to spend it being afraid and trying to please other people.

Sounds like you've learned something in eight months that some people never learn in a whole lifetime!

Supervisor did not return thesis scripts...(writing stage)

Sorry to hear what you're going through. There's a professor in my department who is "famous" for this sort of thing. Fortunately he wasn't my supervisor.

I think you have to be really adamant and unrelenting. Do you live close enough to campus that you can start dropping in on him every day, and confronting him in person every single day? Let his guilt get the better of him. If you can't be there in person, start leaving phone and email messages (note the plural) every day. Of course, always be polite, but persistent. It's not rude. Actually, he's the one being rude.

You should probably keep a log of every exchange - via email, phone, and in-person - just in case you need this as evidence should you have to make a formal complaint against him in the future.

how to answer - why haven't you finished yet?

I like Lindalou's "more work than originally planned" response for relatives who are asking either just to make small talk, or are asking because they're genuinely excited for you (and have no idea about the amount of work involved).

For relatives who are just being snarky, I like Wanderingsage's turn-the-tables strategy. In addition to "When are you retiring?" perhaps "When are you getting hair plugs?" or "I thought you were on a diet!" will probably end the conversation quickly! ((:

But seriously, enjoy the time with the people you came there to see. If you need to recover after the celebration, make a lunch date with your most supportive friends. Don't let other people's negativity interfere with your focus on finishing!

Had not finnished phd in time

You did't explain why he was dismissed, or perhaps I misunderstood. Many candidates work full time, so that wouldn't be grounds for dismissal, and you said he was doing "very well" in his program. Did he stop registering every semester, or did he stop communicating with his advisor?

Just not good enough?!

Hey, Pineapple. I'm in the midst of corrections myself, so I don't have more advice in addition to the good suggestions you've received from others on the forum. Just want to say hang in there! As you've said, surround yourself with positive people. Make sure you're getting enough rest, and take breaks. You've come so far, and will clear this last hurdle!

doing major corrections in 2 months?!

LOL, I don't think you should pray that they won't notice! But I understand what you're saying.

If you've been working well with your supervisors thus far, and they feel the manuscript is ready, than it's probably ready.

If you do a search under the term "viva," you'll find a wealth of posts describing tips and experiences. However, keep away from the viva disaster posts, because these will only make you more anxious. Keep your mindset positive.

Pre PhD Viva anxiety

Congratulations on having made it this far! It's good that you've read through your thesis with a critical eye, and have identified shortcomings, and areas that you would want to address in future research. If these points come up during the viva, you're prepared to demonstrate that you're well aware of them, and have thought about them. However, keep in mind that the thesis isn't meant to be your Magnum Opus. It's meant to demonstrate that you've done original work in your field, and that you understand how to do good research.

I think what you have to do next is read the manuscript again, this time looking at the strengths of your thesis, because this is what you want to highlight during the viva. Please read it again, with an eye toward what you like about it, and the points that will excite your audience. What makes your work original? What parts are you proud of? It's important to go into the viva feeling good about what you've accomplished.

My supervisor advised to approach the viva as a discussion, not a "defense" or interrogation. Personally, I psychologically distanced myself from my thesis, and handled the viva as though I were leading a discussion about someone else's work. This tactic may help by prohibiting you from feeling that the examiners are attacking your intelligence, or ideas. Another professor told me that the biggest problem he has encountered (as an examiner) during vivas is when a candidate becomes defensive, or angry about the criticisms. It's better to concede, "That's a good point. Ideally, I would have liked to..." or "I thought of that too. I should have included..." Hopefully the examiners are offering criticism that they feel will strengthen your work. They may also need to posture and show off a bit to each other, but hey, that's academia for you.

Like you, I came up with a long list of items I thought I had omitted from the literature review. It was nice to have this list, but I didn't actually need it. The best advice I received was to focus on discussing the analysis. After spending so many long hours writing in isolation, I found that just verbally articulating ideas to someone other than my sup was extremely helpful. I practiced by explaining my project to a friend who knows very little about my field. Having to explain my ideas in very plain language helped me become clearer about what I wanted to say.

I hope this is helpful! As you prepare, feel free to continue posting on the forum if it helps to alleviate anxiety that may build up over these six long weeks until the big day. Good luck!


A very interesting read for prospective PhD students

Thanks for posting the link. It's a useful article for new students.

Personally, I found the "work/life balance" aspect of undertaking the PhD far more challenging than the actual academics. It would be great if someone wrote a book, "How to Have a Real Life While Earning Your PhD."

possible academic opportunities/suggestion

Congrats on earning your PhD!
What is your field? Where are you working?

I'm done :)

Best of Luck Dr. Smoobles!

It's great that you're completely done, and free to start a new chapter in your life! :-)
I completely empathise with you concerning the constraints of working full-time, and trying to have sort of personal life on the side.

Another "star" of the forum gone, but do hope you'll pop in now and again! (up)(up)(up)