Thursday, July 10, 2008

Recommendation for all the struggling academics

Getting to ABD was a long time coming for two reasons. First, the way my program is structured means that I had a lot more hoops to jump through than any other program that I know. Second, I spent about a year making not much progress.

At one point, my advisor had the "Come to Jesus" talk with me that went something like "I'm concerned that you're not making progress; maybe you should talk to someone." I had been exploring the idea of a dissertation coach, but hadn't made that last step. I know from experience with therapists that it can be tough finding the right one, plus, it means that I would actually have to start doing, you know, work. At this point, a not-small part of me kind of hoped I would get kicked out of the program. But a Come to Jesus talk? Time to get real.

I contacted one prominent dissertation coach, and she didn't have room in her schedule for new clients. She referred me to Gina Hiatt, a colleague of hers who did have time to take on new clients. I had one session with Gina, who told me that she was about to start up a new pilot program for-- get this-- online coaching (which has now morphed into Academic Writing Club. It was going to be much, much cheaper than one-on-one sessions, so it sounded like a reasonable strategy to try.

This is, in all seriousness, the smartest thing that I have done since the colossal mistake of starting the damn Ph.D. program in the first place. I cannot emphasize enough how helpful this was in building writing discipline from the ground up AND, even more importantly, getting emotional and practical support from other academics in a way that is lacking in many programs. I think I have a pretty good program overall, but I still don't have this kind of support from my advisor or peers.

It's $50 a month (if you sign up before the deadline), and it is well worth the money. It's a very affordable way to get dissertation coaching to get you going. If you are struggling with your program, seriously, give this a try.

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