I have been working on my dissertation very diligently, and I have turned in several drafts to my advisor. She has had multiple drafts for many weeks now, and I have yet to see any comments and she is not responding to my emails. What do I do? –Silent Service Dear Silent Service, Before you start to stress out about not receiving a draft, remember that advisors have a lot going on, including managing a lab (sometimes with multiple graduate students), teaching multiple classes (sometimes with hundreds of students), and performing administrative duties (which can often be more time-consuming than any other task).

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I am sensing some tension between my advisor and I, now that I am in the last year and finishing my dissertation. Communication seems to take forever and short almost ambiguous feedback. We used to talk frequently, but lately things seem strained. What can I do to repair the relationship? –Worried Dear Worried, Thank you for asking this question because communication with your advisor is one of the most important elements of a successful graduate career, but it’s also one of the most ignored. In this time of your graduate career, a major thing you’ll have to remember is the amount of stress that you and your advisor are experiencing.

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The program I am going to does not offer any stipends or financial aid. Is it doable to work full time and be a full time grad student? –Busy Bee Hi Busy Bee, This is a great question that pertains to many people, so I’m glad you asked it. A lot of people may be either too proud or afraid to ask this. Working full time and being a full-time grad student simultaneously is doable, but be cautioned that it is difficult. I know a lot of people who are in similar situations with full-time jobs, full-time student status, and families, and I can see them struggling with it. However, it works for some.

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I have really enjoyed my undergraduate program, and my university has a very good master’s program in social sciences. When talking to professors about going to graduate school, some have discouraged me from going to the same school. If I don’t plan on going into academia, does it really matter if both of my degrees are from the same school? What if I do decide to go into academia? –To Stay or Not To Stay Dear To Stay or Not To Stay, Thank you for asking this question because many students don’t understand how people feel about students’ staying at the same university for undergraduate and graduate school.

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I am deep into my proposal and my advisor is not communicating with me in a timely manner for changes. What can I do? –Lacking Communication Dear Lacking, I understand not knowing what to do in these cases because you may not know if your advisor is one who fails to get back with students on a regular basis or if he or she rarely misses an email in a given day.This issue can be solved by taking a step back and approaching it with a new perspective. Put yourself in your advisor’s shoes and figure out the factors that may be delaying his or her responses.

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I am almost done with my course work, in fact I am only 9 credit hours and a dissertation away from graduating. My problem is that due to sequencing, I am only able to take 3 hours this semester, which puts me at part time status. Since I am not a full time student, not only will I lose my financial aid, but I will have to start paying back my loans. What can I do? –Ineligible for Fin Aid Dear Ineligible, First of all, congratulations on getting this far. I know it has been a bumpy road at times, but you are getting there, so continue going strong.

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My dissertation advisor talks excessively and rarely lets me speak during our individual meetings. He also gets distracted and the conversation goes off topic, often talking about my assistantship/lab work and not my individual paper or research project. I am looking to have more structured and organized meetings with my advisor. How can I take control of the meetings with him being OK with it? What works and does not work? What are PhD students allowed to do (and what would be considered unfair if my advisor said No)? –Not-So-Distracted Dear Not-So-Distracted, I can definitely see where your frustration is coming from. 

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I am currently trying to decide on whether I should get a Master’s degree prior to my PhD, go to a PhD program that offers an en route Master’s, or go straight into a PhD program from my undergraduate degree. –Deciding Masters or PhD Dear Deciding, This decision is tough for many students to make because they want to earn their chosen degrees as soon as possible, but they want to gain the right kind of education and experience needed in the field after graduating.

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I have a very full life right now. I am currently married with two kids, and am the primary breadwinner for the household. I want to pursue a graduate degree, so that I can really build a better life for me and my family. With my schedule, the only option I see is an online program, but there are so many out there and it’s almost impossible to tell which ones are legit and which ones are not. –Online Programs: PhDo or PhDon’t? Dear Online, There are a few things you should consider before even thinking about which online programs will be best for you to get a graduate degree.

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I have recently graduated with my PhD and I want to publish the findings of my dissertation, but I don’t even know where to begin in turning a 300 page dissertation into a 30 page manuscript. –Lost in Publication Dear Lost in Publication, One step that might make things easier is to identify journals that would be a good fit for your research project. You can then begin to model the piece of your dissertation off articles that are currently being published in your field.

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