Yearly Doctoral Progress Report

Two posts in one day, what? My brain must be working today… or I’m tired enough that I just don’t care how this reads later.

Every year the graduate school requires its graduate students to complete a progress report summarizing how far you’ve gotten in the program. The report asks about credit hours completed towards your degree, research and dissertation hours completed, dates major exams (quals, plan of study, prelim, prospectus, dissertation defense) have been completed or are intended to be completed, current G.P.A., goals for the next year, and any awards/presentations/publications and/or service to the program you’ve done over the past year.

For most students, and even for me in my early graduate student career, the form wasn’t too difficult to fill out. Look a few things up, fill in a few blanks with reasonable guesses, and that’s it. But now I look at those questions and I don’t know how to proceed.

Honestly, I have no idea when I’ll do my prelim, let alone my prospectus and dissertation defense.  And goals for the future… if I write “figure out whats wrong with me, and how to manage it so I can get back to working on what I want to” will that be taken the wrong way? Will the graduate school see that and tsk-tsk me for continuing to be a full time graduate student, taking research and dissertation hours, and not really making and progress on my degree? But what other goal can I reasonably say? I really, really, do want to make progress on my degree but going is difficult and slow. It’s gonna take time, and I haven’t the foggiest idea of how much. Are you going to be okay with that graduate school? While I struggle on with my health (mental & physical) and try to wrestle even the tiniest of thoughts about scholarship, I still haven’t finished any measurable milestones. There isn’t anything concrete I can share with the graduate school to imply I’m not just taking up space. And even though my counselor says I’ve made fantastic progress since she first started seeing me, that isn’t anything I can turn into them. Not really. And certainly not on this form.

How do you evaluate your year, from an academic perspective, when every day you wake up happy you’ve made it this far at all? That you’ve gotten up again. That you put one foot in front of the other, and move through the world at all?

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