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 am currently working on my dissertation, and I am having serious problems with my committee.  Well actually, I work well with all of them, the problem is that they do not get along with each other.  They are giving me conflicting advice about edits and changes.  I am afraid that my dissertation has become a political war that really has nothing to do with me.  What do I do? –Committee Conflicts Dear Committee Conflicts, Welcome to the world of academic reality. Unfortunately, all of our gods have clay feet. Your committee is quite human and, therefore, will behave in a less-than-ideal manner. The best way to deal with people when there are disagreements is on a personal, one-to-one basis. It is not your job to be an intermediary, but you can bring an issue to their attention. Since you already have rapport with your advisors, I encourage you to meet with each and request advice on how to address the problem (be prepared for blame shifting). By engaging them in this manner, it is possible that some of them will take up your cause to create consensus among the committee members. They all have a stake in your completing your dissertation.

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Within the past 10 years or so, the number of professional degrees has dramatically increased.  This is particularly true in medical fields, which offer degrees such as DPT, DOT, and DNP; in fact, even an MD is considered a professional degree. What is the difference between a PhD and a professional degree?  A PhD is first and…

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