DJW, Ph.D., Classical Studies, University of Florida

I entered a Ph.D. program over 15 years after failing to complete another one in the same field, in which I had reached the dissertation stage but hit a wall I couldn’t get through.  I needed to make another attempt because I was teaching full time at the college level, and my department made it clear that if I wanted to keep my job I needed to finish the Ph.D.  In addition to the usual difficulties and frustrations of finishing a dissertation while working full time, I was also carrying the burden of my previous failure and was beginning to repeat my previous pattern of counterproductive habits and spinning my wheels.  I was reaching the point where I really needed to get cracking if I was going to finish the degree, or be close enough to completion, by the time of my job review.  This was compounded by the fact that I was working at a great distance from my adviser and committee, so I had little active supervision.  My wife, seeing how frustrated and defeated I felt, found The Dissertation Coach online and suggested that I contact Alison Miller.  Alison matched me with Kathryn Peterson, with whom I worked for two months.  This was exactly what I needed to kick-start my work and set me on a path to completion.  Kathryn helped me organize my daily work schedule and find ways to break a large, overwhelming task into smaller, more manageable chunks.  In particular, she taught me the importance of scheduling regular breaks into my daily workplan, so as not to get exhausted and frustrated.  She also taught me how to use smaller chunks of time in productive ways, and to approach thesis-writing as a job rather than as a measure of self-worth.  Kathryn and I kept in touch daily through Google Docs, where we monitored and tweaked my daily workplan, and through weekly phone calls.  My work with Kathryn helped me set a pattern of working productively which enabled me to finish a draft in time, get the promotion at work, and complete the degree.  I highly recommend The Dissertation Coach to anyone working on any kind of long-term writing project.  One of the hardest parts about writing a dissertation is that one feels very alone and not understood.  You are not alone, and there are people who understand and can help.  Please don’t hesitate to contact The Dissertation Coach and ask for the help you need.