Kindergarten and Dissertations

April 21st is National Kindergarten Day! In the United States, most parents and teachers look at kindergarten as a year of transformation…which makes kindergarten a lot like the dissertation process!…

“I just can’t believe how much little Jenny has grown this year!”

“She started the year as a baby…and now look at her!”

Kindergarteners start the year not knowing how to wear a backpack and end the year confidently chattering away about the intricacies of school cafeteria protocol.

How does this transformation happen? Is it just a developmental stage that happens to coincide with the kindergarten year? And, what does this have to do with you and your dissertation?

Kindergarteners are at a developmental stage where they are ready to learn new things and take on more independence. (Hey, that is whykindergarten is when it is!) But, readiness isn’t what makes it happen. The reason children go through a dramatic transformation during kindergarten is because that readiness combines with expectations and structure to set up an environment that results in transformation.

Let me explain. When children go to kindergarten, they’re entering the world of “big kid school.” This is a change for all kids, whether they were home before or in a preschool. The norms are different, and the expectations for their behavior are different. Furthermore, they see other people close to their age doing those exact same things, making those things seem normal and doable.

When all the other kids are walking in line, raising their hand, and writing dissertations, kindergarteners start to realize it’s normal and expected to do those things.

Ok, so they’re not really writing dissertations…but do you get my point?

When you enrolled in your doctoral program and had to start doing schoolwork again, you probably felt intimidated at first, but after a while it became normal. If you’ve been working on your dissertation for a long time, you may not have checked to see how far you’ve come since the start of your program.

Try an experiment:

Go to your computer and pull out an early draft of your dissertation.

Now get your current version. Compare and contrast.

Unless you’re only on your first few drafts, I’m guessing you are going to see a lot of change.

You may be feeling frustrated with your current draft. But take a few minutes to pat yourself on the back for how far you have come!

What if you haven’t come as far as you’d like? Take a look at how your expectations and structure may not be as strong as they could be. Since you’re an adult, you don’t have as much of this imposed on you, so you  have to force yourself to be more organized.

Take a cue from kindergarten teachers. Can you make a plan that expectstransformation? Can you implement a structure that will ensure that it happens?

If you’re having trouble making the transformation, click here to schedule a quick, 15-minute chat with me to see if you’re a good fit for our Fast Track Your Dissertation Coaching Program. If you are, then I’ll invite you to join the fastest group of dissertation students out there and help you to reach graduation a good year or two faster than you would on your own.

If you need extra support and guidance to make it to graduation, I may be able to help. If you'd like to find out whether you qualify for the support we offer throughout the dissertation process, then...

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.

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