Wednesday, I received a piece of advice labeled as “the one piece of advice I wish I would have had day one of the graduate school process.”
Give your committee what they want and change the world once you have your Ph.D
I’ve spent the past few weeks reestablishing a research direction to accommodate a change in advising and negative results in what I scraped into a MS thesis. This was a lot of just thinking, in between meetings with my collaborator and advisers. I didn’t have any equations, code or data to play in just my thoughts and some literature to justify or give context to them. Yesterday I finally got my ideas sorted out enough that I felt ready for my meeting today that was intended to give me a plan for what to work on.
What I realized was that a part of why it was so hard to organize the ideas and research interests I had was that it was way more than a PhD worth of work floating around in my head. Some of the ideas are general enough that though my current work inspired these ideas, they probably can’t even be validated with the data that I’m working on. When I reach the point of applying for jobs, having good ideas for future work will be great, but what I need to narrow down a dissertation, it’s not constructive. For now, I need to narrowly work on what will get me my degree.
Yesterday, I came across an (http://www.theguardian.com/education/2002/nov/08/highereducation.books” target=”_blank”>article on posted on LinkedIn on ways to not get a PhD. One of them is overestimating what is required. Again, very timely. Even if my target graduation is 2 years away, that’s still not that much time to complete a project and the necessary writing. The takeaway here is that I need to stick to writing down ideas for later, but then stop and get back to the objective at hand: graduating.