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How to get a PhD
How I did it: Getting a PhD was one of my goals for a long long time. There are more steps to it than you can imagine, from getting good grades as an undergraduate, having the first inkling that you want to do get a doctorate, to getting accepted to a program, to taking exams to qualify, and moving to the school you plan to attend. And that's before your first day of classes. Once you're there there are hurdles and hurdles to clear, tests, papers and internships, more tests, more papers and more work than you ever imagined you could ever do in a lifetime. Then there's the ever present cloud over your head called a dissertation. It's possible though, if you've got brains, ambition, some organizational know-how and some out-of-school support. I did it, and others can too.
Lessons & tips:
- Keep your goal in mind and don't let people sway you from it.
- Take it a day, or a semester, or a year at a time. Break your big goal (getting the PhD) into many little goals- I will pass my comps, I will get A's this semester, and eventually, I will finish and pass the dissertation defense.
- Have a support system OUTSIDE of the school. Yes, you'll have your advisors, but also have people you can turn to outside of school to help you take your mind off of school sometimes.
- Do something else while you're doing this- work on a hobby. I whittled. Again, if you only think about the PhD you'll go crazy.
- Keep going. It's a long long road and you're not going to arrive tomorrow. The first years are the hardest because the goal still seems so very far off.
- I know I just said the first years are the hardest, but really finishing is really difficult too because you're really tired of it all.
Resources: A great book to have: The Readable Thesis by Darrel Walters. (Avocus publishing) - a wonderful resource