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I can almost hear the collective gasp from the Ivory Tower at my very suggestion. I was just reading an article from a professor/dissertation coach who went on and on about how the dissertation should be the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life. How you should expect to spend many years working on it. How it is not supposed to be easy. How it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
I see the same sentiments repeated by PhD students in social media groups and online forums… but respectfully, I disagree.
Writing a dissertation is not hard, but there’s a lot of money to be made off the idea that it is. If you buy into the narrative that it’s hard and believe it should take a long time, you’re expecting to spend a lot more time and money on it than necessary.
If, on the other hand, you dare to believe that the dissertation can be completed in a year and tell yourself you have better things to do than twist in the wind over a paper (because ultimately, that’s what it is), you’re setting yourself up to cruise through the process. That doesn’t mean your chair will agree with you. That doesn’t mean your school (especially if you’re at an online, for-profit school) will cheer you on as you race to the finish line. But it DOES mean that you can raise hell and push forward despite whatever ridiculous delay tactics your school tries throw your way.
By the way, is anyone else noticing that the IRB application process has gotten ridiculously drawn out at schools like Walden and Northcentral, lately? I digress…
The fact is this: the longer you spend completing your dissertation, the more money your school will make off of you in tuition and fees. A dissertation is just a long paper about your original research. How much time should it reasonably take you to complete a traditional five-chapter dissertation, from start to finish (let’s say averaging around 150-200 pages)?
One. Single. Year.
And some of you may even be able to do it in less time if you’re dialed in and have a supportive committee. But even if you’ve got a chair from hell and a school bent on draining you of every last dime… the process should not take longer than a year.
I’ve spent the last several years learning the strategies that many of these schools use to delay students. I’ve had clients come to me who had been struggling on their own for years, accumulating hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. I’ve figured out the delay tactics, and at this point, I know the secrets to getting around them. I’ve been able to quickly get people on the right track and out the door.
Dissertations are not hard. They’re a pain, sure. They can be a challenge if you’ve never written a long academic paper or conducted original research. But they should not be hard, nor should they cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most importantly, they should not break your spirit.
If you’re stuck, get some help so you can finish that sucker and get on with your life. Don’t buy into the ridiculous narrative about how difficult dissertations are, and don’t subscribe to the notion that they should take years to complete. Get in, get out, and go make your mark with that shiny new degree.