Acade(me)

The dissertation was only the beginning.

People & Places
T: Amazing Husband
ST: Three-year-old Wonder
Prof. G: Advisor I
Prof. C: Advisor II
Julie: Stylish Sister
Rob: Awesome Brother
Belle: Our Cat
Bill: Grumbling BIL
Rita: Uncomplicated SIL
SMU: Smallish Midwestern University
Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
Technical
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Quote of the Day
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Done
I apologize for being so secretive about today's defense, and I am touched by all of your sweet notes of congratulations on my previous post. In actuality, only a few people knew the defense was today: T, my sister, and ABDmom. I found out that the defense was scheduled for today in the middle of May, and at that point I felt like the dissertation was so far from being done that I didn't actually believe that a June 20 defense date was feasible. I submitted my full draft to my advisors on May 31, they returned comments to me on June 6, I revised until June 11, and the defense was today. It all happened very, very quickly.

I think my department is unusual in that the full committee only sees the final draft that was approved by the candidate's advisor(s). This means that 3/5 of my committee did not see the dissertation until June 11 -- the last time they saw any of my work was at my prospectus defense. What this means is that the final portion of the defenses in our department are typically reserved for revision suggestions from the non-advising committee members, and a two-week revision period post-defense. I have a friend who defended in early May, for example, who was asked to write another 5-7 pages post-defense.

As I prepared for the defense over the past few days, I was very nervous about the fact that three of the professors on my committee were seeing this dissertation for the first time, and I was certain that they would have millions of nit-picky comments for revision. My stomach churned at the thought of writing more, of researching more, of looking at this dissertation for another few weeks. I went into the defense feeling very jittery indeed.

After the defense started, however, I could feel myself relax. I was on my own turf here -- I could answer my committee members' questions with relative ease, and I was not at all uncomfortable admitting that there were questions I couldn't answer immediately. For the first time in a long time, I felt confident in my research and proud of what I had written. The discussion of my dissertation lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes, and then I was sent out of the room while the committee deliberated. Only ten minutes later, they called me back into the room and said, "Congratulations, Dr. [My Last Name]! You're done!"

After the other committee members left, Prof. C and Prof. G remained in the room with me. Prof. C. hugged me tightly and brushed a tear off of my cheek and said, "I'm so proud of you." And Prof. G. -- well, just one look from him reduced me to tears again. I pulled myself together and asked them what I had to do for the final draft. "Which sections do I have to work on?" I asked, paging through the document.

Prof. G. smiled. "Well, the committee didn't recommend any changes to the text. Just fix some of the typos and make sure everything is in the bibliography. No revisions otherwise."

I was flabbergasted. No revisions? This was a dream come true!

A few hours later I returned home to call T, my parents, and my sister. Then T, ST and I went out for a quick dinner at a new cafe in town and later enjoyed hot fudge sundaes while we watched a thunderstorm roll in. After ST went to bed T and I signed our mortgage paperwork for the bank, and then I retired to the family room to watch Alton Brown make granola bars. It was a perfectly leisurely evening.

I really can't believe that it's over. And I can't believe how relaxed I feel tonight, how I'm finally breathing properly again. Bit by bit, the pieces of a new life are falling into place.

I will sleep well tonight.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 6/20/2006 10:45:00 PM  
10 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 12:00 AM, Blogger phd me said…

    Sleep well, indeed!!! I am so proud of you! Not having any revisions is an amazing accomplishment - you're truly done with it. Congrats ten times over!

    As an aside: I had the same experience. My advisor is the only person who saw my developing dissertation until I submitted the completed product to the committee two weeks before the defense. In my department, it's considered bad form to solicit help unless your advisor suggests you go out and get it. Go figure.

     
  • At 1:14 AM, Blogger ArticulateDad said…

    Hot Damn! You're done. Enjoy it... though, with the pending move, I suspect you'll have quite enough to keep you busy. But... don't be at all surprised if you slide a bit into a sense of wandering. I think it's a common feeling, after the elation of finally being done, the sense of "now, what have I just done, and where does it lead me, and what's next, and... and ...". But then, you've got the job starting in the fall. I'm sure that'll help to keep you focused on some goals.

    Enjoy it, and be well.

     
  • At 7:28 AM, Blogger RageyOne said…

    I hope you had a restful sleep! :-)

    Our process is much like you describe, the only person who has seen my diss is my advisor. The other 3 members of my committee have not seen anything since the prospectus either. eek!

    I'm so happy to hear all went well with your defense and you have no major revisions! Excellent!

     
  • At 7:34 AM, Blogger Dr. Mon said…

    Of course I should have expected that since we are practically the same person that our experiences would be the same too!

    I'm so happy for you!!

     
  • At 8:10 AM, Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway said…

    What a wonderful experience and such a great way to end the whole process! Congratulations again!

     
  • At 8:27 AM, Blogger Peri said…

    Make everyone call you Dr. for the next week or two-- T and ST included!

    You are simply amazing to have completed this amidst all the chaos and saying 'congratulations' just doesn't seem all-encompassing enough. Revel in the relief if you can.

     
  • At 11:09 AM, Blogger grumpyABDadjunct said…

    CONGRATULATIONS! You are an inspiration to me.

     
  • At 11:20 AM, Blogger BrightStar said…

    That sounds like a wonderful experience! Good work!!!

     
  • At 1:59 PM, Blogger MusicalMom said…

    YAY!!!!!

    Congratulations! How wonderful to be done without needing any more revisions.

    Now you can move on to your next stage of life. :)

     
  • At 11:52 PM, Blogger Flavia said…

    Oh my! Congratulations!

    "There's more to life than a dissertation"--indeed. And now you're there.

     
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