The Waiting Game…

I have no fabulous updates to give. My draft is still with my advisor, who emailed me on Monday to tell me that she glanced at it, it looks good, but she was swamped until today. So here it is, almost 3 pm, and no word yet.

With some sleep and the passage of time, I have come to the conclusion that I do NOT like the draft. Yes, it is well written, but I do not feel it tells the story it is supposed to tell. In the literature review, I addressed single-sex school research, and, in the U.S., most of that research is on girls and how single-sex schooling does or does not contribute to advancing their ambitions/interests/achievement in math and science. While interesting to some, this really does not relate to my work. I feel I need to talk about boys schools and the research that speaks to what peculiar places these are. This means taking the literature review abroad to Australia and the UK, where quite a bit of work exists on the subject.

And then there’s the project itself. While I appreciate my advisor’s desire to get me through the program and graduated by next year, this means gathering the data for the rest of the school year.

It is March tomorrow. We only have 12 school days in April, given vacation, a Catholic school conference, and Easter. Then May. Then summer. It seems too rushed.

Are these excuses I am making to prolong this process? Everyone who knows me knows I don’t do closure well. Do I just not want this doctoral experience to end, exhausting and life-sucking as it may be?


But I also am in love with my topic enough that I want to do an EXCELLENT dissertation. Not just a good one. FABULOUS. And I fear that might not work out by trying to squeeze it in now. Next school year would be better.

But then there is the conventional wisdom that says, “A good dissertation is a done dissertation.” Very true. “Your dissertation is not – and SHOULD not – be your life’s work.” Also true.

This has always been my problem – I go big or I go home, and there’s rarely a middle ground for me. I don’t know how to “just get it done”- it has to get done better than anyone’s imagination. And I actually don’t care to change this aspect of my personality, despite how unnerving it may be at times.

With it, so many things are possible.


It’s in.

Hopefully, that won’t happen, but it is now out of my hands.

Am I happy with it? I think so. I have worked on it too continuously for too long to have any strong feelings on it at the moment.

Is it done? No. Each section has material, most sections are complete, but there is still more to add. I would guess even as much as 20 pages. However, at 72 pages, I could not do any more. Aside from the fact that it is already 12:45 and I do have to educate young minds in less than 8 hours, I am afraid that if I were to keep going, most of it would be junk that my advisor would tell me to cut anyway.

And, my advisor said she didn’t WANT any more. Initially she said, “I don’t want 100 pages for a proposal.” So, now I leave it to her very capable hands and, hopefully, generous eyes to guide me.

She has already been right about many things, namely, that I needed to include research on Catholic schools. I didn’t really see this as imperative because even though I teach at a Catholic school and will be conducting research at this site, I consider the school Catholic with a “small c.” Reading the research on Catholic high schools, though, does convince me that these schools are unique. Did you know that research shows students at Catholic schools have lower incidences of substance abuse than students at other schools? I did not either until about 2 pm today.

Is this good to know? I am not sure. I suspect it will be.

So, what’s next? Technically, though I have been working on my proposal, I have not yet submitted a pre-proposal. I am not sure what the point of this step is, but I have to submit a pre-proposal to the dean and explain who I want on my committee. I think the dean then has to officially “ask” these people, even though I’ve already done that (and this isn’t just me being type-A – this is how it’s done). Then, I submit the proposal to my committee members, change what they tell me to change, and then we have a closed door “hearing.” I am not sure what happens in this “hearing,” but at the end of it, I should be happy and have the green light to go forth and conquer. Once given the green light, I have to submit the paperwork to the IRB – which reviews my research and gives me the okay to conduct research on human subjects. Then I gather data.

Oh, and that entire process above kind of needs to be done within the next month if I want any chance of graduating by this time next year.

But let’s not talk about that. Best not to get ahead of ourselves.

Oh, and to my brother-in-law who suggested tonight that I write a stream-of-consciousness post because it would be funny/enlightening/entertaining/scary, I will do that at some point, but this is not it.


A moment of thanks

Today I am thankful for:

  • the discovery of PhinisheD, an online support group for people going through this process. I am not sure that I will post much, if at all, but the idea that I have a place to go to for tips, vents, or understanding if I need it is reassuring.
  • a kick ass advisor. I have heard horror stories of professors who are belittling, demoralizing, hard to reach, or otherwise unsupportive. Mine is none of these things. She is making my study better, holding me to higher standards than I feel I need to be held to, and she seems genuinely fascinated with the possibilities of my work. And I am afraid of her enough that when she tells me she wants the proposal in her inbox when she returns from her weekend trip by tomorrow afternoon, as she did in her email response to me today, I will do it.
  • childhood innocence, as evidence by Avery. When she heard me tell Brendan I had to have my proposal to my advisor by Sunday afternoon, she said,”So you’ll be a doctor on Monday!?” Oh, if only.

However, I am wondering why the otherwise always timely responsive O’Neill library at BC is taking so long to send me the articles I need to complete my theoretical framework. I followed Colbert’s advice and requested them days ago…