I used to be a really good student. I’m not especially smarter than average, maybe even below average for a PhD student, but I was a really good student. The sort that does extra work, not for praise, or at least not just for praise, but because I loved the work and was really excited about it. This isn’t especially unusual either, I suspect. Why else would someone work in literature after all?
Then my personal life fell apart and got put back together in a much happier way (divorce, romance, second marriage). And then I got sick and sicker and sicker. Drugs. Anxiety. Therapy. Surgery. And then I got better and better and better. More surgery.
In the meantime, the university forced me to take my quals. I passed. And then a whole lot of nothing.
Last Spring / Summer? Maybe 20 pages of dissertation. And a plan to finish in a year or so.
This Fall / Spring? Another 65. And a plan to finish in a year.
And, of course, meantime noises about graduate students taking too long to complete. Them being pushed out. I feared being told much the same.
Yesterday I swallowed my pride and wrote emails to my department’s Graduate Director (Professor K) and my own dissertation chair (Professor M). Professor K emailed me back at once wanting to see me today. I panicked, but made the meeting, armed only with a realistic completion plan and my trusty draft chapters..
It was wonderful. Professor K was nothing but supportive and encouraging. Glad I was working away and happy I’d come to see him. He advised me to meet with my chair, Professor M, as soon as possible.
After I left his office, I noticed the door to Professor M’s office was open and stuck my head in. We met for a few minutes, arranged a meeting for tomorrow afternoon and I walked back to my office.
Suddenly I’m a PhD candidate in good standing. And apparently have been all along.