Tuesday, June 28, 2005

PhD dissertations and other exercises in futility

I'm sure Mike can attest to the frustration I've been experiencing for the past few weeks or months even. But hey, I figure I can vent my frustrations to the rest of the world right here too.

I'm just finishing out my 4th year as a PhD student. When I started the program "officially", I had already taken a couple of the core classes and gotten them out of the way. I was also working in a lab that I intended to continue working in, so that was another leg up over other students that were coming from other places. So I should breeze thru this whole PhD thing? Heh.

I could have easily taken the oral prelim exam after I was done with classes. Heck, I've been told that you don't even really need to be totally done taking classes to do so. Why didn't I? Stupidity? Laziness? Time getting away from me? Other things going on in my personal life at the time? Yeah, all of those and probably a few more that I can't bring to the front of my mind here. My boss was also not really pushing it, and in fact took the attitude of "don't worry about it, it's just a stupid formality."

Fast forward, and I want to graduate, and I keep asking to schedule, keep getting put off. And now my boss is leaving and it's time to go into panic mode!

Here's the current frustration. Yes, the prelim scheduling. So I have the final draft of the written part of the prelim all submitted. The earliest I could schedule after everything got done was the end of June (which would be this week). I started *trying* to schedule at the start of June. One committee member is on federal jury duty. A second was out of town the entire week. Ugh. A third didn't get back to me until 2 weeks after I sent out the original email to start the process.

So my boss is gone in July until the last week. Great. Trying to schedule it then. I have a window of about a week there and so far, one person is out of contact (the one who wasn't available during the end of June), 2 people are good to go, 1 person is still deciding whether he's going to take a vacation or not. And of course my boss is there...he's the most important I'd wager. I've been told that in extenuating circumstances, I can have 4 out of 5 there. But as of yet, I only have 3! WHY IS THIS SO HARD!!!

To make matters worse, I HAVE TO GET THIS DONE. In fact, I have to get this done before August 15th, when the lab officially shuts down!


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