Ph.D. is one of the toughest phases anyone can choose to face in their academic life. Coping is an everyday struggle in itself. Many can attest to the fact that the road to that graduate diploma may be long and lonely. You will surely encounter struggles that no one but a fellow Ph.D. student would understand.
The non-completion rate of Ph.D. students worldwide is at a staggering rate. A study revealed that 3 out of 10 full-time Ph.D. students are stuck in graduate school limbo. The can’t seem to move forward from graduate school with doctorate dissertation that, seven years since starting their academic journey, hangs in the balance.
Thankfully, support groups come to the rescue.
Nobody wants to struggle alone, and you do not want that either. Lucky for all Ph.D. students, there are support groups everywhere; we are absolutely sure there is one at your university. But what if you’re not the sociable type? What if conventional group gatherings bring you discomfort? Online support groups are available at your disposal.
Ph.D. is a Lifetime of Research
The world, especially in its current state of affairs, needs scholars and researchers to find solutions for the most minute problems of society. Ph.D. students show they are up to the task.
Despite the difficulty, enrollment in post-baccalaureate degrees increased by 38% in 2016. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics suggests this trend will be consistent until 2027. Among the various doctor’s degrees offered in the United States, two fields were the top choices. Health and law professions make up almost two-thirds of the total graduates in 2015 and 2016 for both on-campus and online Ph.D. graduates. This tells us of the great amount of dedication Ph.D. candidates have for their academic advancement.
Ph.D. means research. It would probably seem like a lifetime of research just to graduate. However complex, frustrating, and expensive, students in their prime still choose to spend their time in academia.
Generally, completion of a Ph.D. research degree requires an original and substantial thesis following a traditional route. It follows a structured program of advanced study and supervised research. Doctorate students admitted to the program must complete all requisite graduate-level coursework. In addition, they must participate in doctoral seminars and symposiums. All these could take three up to seven years (even more) to be successfully completed.
Ph.D. Candidates are free, to a certain degree, to choose their area of study. But they must meet the high academic standard set by the university. Requirements may vary among various universities and colleges. Ultimately, though, all successful candidates will be awarded a title of “Doctor in Philosophy or Ph.D.”. That title is only fitting; after all, you are spending a lifetime fully immersed in research.
Yes, a Ph.D. dissertation is an individual project, but a supervisor closely monitors your progress. Only through cooperation with a supervisor can one truly succeed in grad school. Supervisors are experts in the field and are committed to helping you get through the tedious process.
Thesis defense: the ultimate hurdle for all Ph.D. candidates. As much as the thesis defense is considered the apex of doctoral study, it is also a time to look back at all those years you spend on your research and realize it has come full circle for you. Your thesis is your intellectual masterpiece. The time will come when you, the apprentice, will be a step closer to being the master. Close collaboration with your supervisor can make a lot of difference. You have to have a healthy and productive relationship with your supervisor because your graduation literally depends on this defense.
As a Ph.D. candidate, you will stand before a panel of academic achievers who are the best in their fields to defend your thesis. It is an inescapable part of the process, and probably the most challenging one of all. Your efforts will be criticized, your hypothesis questioned, and the validity of your results will be put under scrutiny. All you have to do is stand firm and argue. Argue and defend that your research is original, relevant, and new. Besides, nobody knows it better than you do. It goes without saying that you need to prepare for your thesis defense. Defend it as a knight would defend his honor!
Online Support Groups for You
Having everything to consider and think about, Ph.D. students often live their days anxiously, all stressed out and even depressed. These high-risk behaviors stem from the highly-critical environment in graduate school. A new survey shows that graduate students are more susceptible to depression and anxiety than the general population. Regardless of the fact that it is no longer a surprise, it is important that we look at it consciously.
The culture of isolation in graduate school is a major cause of this mental health risk. If it goes unchecked, this may lead to a greater problem. When someone finds themselves in an unreasonable situation, it sinks in and becomes a normative behavior. It is an awful reality in the academia – a cost that nobody is willing to pay but pays anyway.
“A general feeling of isolation that can also weigh down graduate students.”
Behind this isolationist, critical and competitive, and sometimes hostile environment, support groups exist with an aim to make the journey easy for Ph.D. students. Support groups bring people together and are ideal for people who have gone through or are going through similar experiences. Graduate school is a breeding ground for support groups. The opportunity to share and learn from other students’ experiences fills the gap and helps in coping. One of the advantages of support groups is that they are meant to keep Ph.D. students from feeling alone or helpless.
When education evolved toward the online platform, online support groups were also formed to welcome Ph.D. students from around the world. Online support groups provide flexible and frequent communication with other support group members. Aside from these obvious benefits, the anonymity in online support groups is very attractive to graduate students.
Ph.D. Dissertation Support Groups
In the process of completing your dissertation? You do not have to go through it alone. Being in a peer support group while finishing your dissertation, helps you improve your writing, your productivity, and your time management. Faster progress means earning your doctorate degree faster.
External insights provided by your peers can bring invaluable contributions to your research. You might develop a new way of writing or come up with an idea that would make the process more bearable for you. You will have an audience to practice presentations and people to go to for help with or brainstorm on your next big idea. A dissertation support group is especially important in maintaining that objective to finish your dissertation and keeping at it. Fellow doctoral students will have to gently but firmly push and support you until you realize that quitting should never be an option.
Michael Kiparsky, a Ph.D. holder himself, suggests that when considering to form a dissertation support group, you should consider the following:
- Limit the size of your group to a maximum of three people
- Choose your co-conspirators carefully
- It does not matter if you study different fields
- Each member of the group should be in approximately the same stage of progress in their dissertation
- Opposites attract
- Meet weekly
- Emphasize output
- Limit your meeting time
- Organize each session
All things considered, gather up your colleagues and form a dissertation support group!
Why Join a Dissertation Support Group?
Dissertation work is challenging in itself. Issues will arise. At some point, you will not have the support you need to survive the day. Burnout is your ultimate enemy. Having a support group solely for your dissertation process gives you the advantage of knowing there are others out there who understand what you are going through and are willing to offer the support you need. The empathetic dynamics at play within the group is welcoming, comfortable, and positive. Swap your negative and overtly competitive crowd for a support group that focuses on helping you make it happen for yourself.
“This group is for you if…”
PhinisheD is an online forum that welcomes all Ph.D. students from every corner of the world to join the online discussion. The forum provides a place for struggling students to find friendly advice from strangers who are experiencing the same struggles. PhinisheD promises to “provide a non-threatening and supportive online environment for dissertation and thesis writers and others who are struggling in academia.”
The minds behind the forum understand the intellectual and emotional requirements of finishing a doctorate dissertation. Writing is never an easy chore especially in the standards of the academia. Certainly, you can use some camaraderie and fellowship. Although you only talk to the people in the forum through your computer screen, the comfort that it provides is invaluable.
So, PhinisheD is for you if…
- You are sick to death of people asking you “How is your dissertation [or thesis] coming?”
- You have vague fears about finishing but don’t feel you have a safe outlet for discussing whatever it is you seem to be afraid of.
- You’re having organizational problems or blocks and find yourself procrastinating or staring at a blank computer screen for long periods of time.
- You are not getting the kind of support you need — from your university, your employer, your family members, or your friends.
- Face-to-face support groups offered by your university don’t suit you for whatever reason.
- You’ve experienced and overcome this stagnant state of non-completion and want to help those still struggling.
- You’ve completed your degree and are facing a job search, a heavy teaching load, a daunting research agenda, or the rigors of the tenure track.
If you think you fit the description, join them today! Registration is free.
Online Ph.D. Support Groups
Support groups for those who do not like face-to-face interactions. Find your place here.
“We are what we do.”
Meetup is a website available to everyone – it literally knows no borders. It is a membership software which allows its members to schedule events through the platform. The promise of bringing together people with common interests and experiences is a unique service.
Ph.D. Students Meetup specifically targets doctorate students across the nation and worldwide. Members set up “meet-ups”, an opportunity to connect with other Ph.D. students outside your university but are living within your area. After all, getting together with real people leaves us with real-life experiences on sharing and caring, leading to a powerful support system.
Who knows, you might be able to finish your thesis after a Meetup. Sign up now!
Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics
“Empowering advances in life sciences and health.”
An international, non-profit organization, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB) is a bioinformatics research foundation focused in bioinformatics. SIB promises to provide world-class bioinformatics to benefit the world.
SIB shares their learned expertise in the storage, analysis and the dissemination of substantial data in biology. This is possible through collaboration between research institutions and industrial partners. The institute remains as the leader of innovation in the field of bioinformatics.
Ph.D. students from across the globe can access the database through their dynamic portal Expasy. Doctorate degrees in the field of biology, life sciences, chemistry, anatomy will find the perfect online support group in SIB’s portal-database. Open-access data and literature is a Ph.D. goldmine. Join their events near you and feel at home with the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics.
As you navigate through graduate school, sometimes you neglect your very own emotional needs. Emotional support is an important tool for anyone who is going through an important stage in their lives. Ph.D. students, who spend most of their day in isolation are in need of constant emotional support.
PostGradForum provides an online emotional support for Ph.D. students. you are free to vent out, to rant, or to simply be supported by people who can understand. The kind of support that the forum gives is key to a healthy doctorate life. Aside from that, the forum tackles practically everything that relates to getting a doctorate degree. You can find useful resources on the site. It is a one-stop shop for Ph.D. students.
Register today and see for yourself!
Do not Suffer in Silence
Now that you know that these support groups exist, you no longer need to suffer in silence or alone. There are many people experiencing the same anxiousness, isolation, and existential crisis as you. All you need to do is search for the group that you can connect with.
Yes, joining a new group may be unsettling, especially now that you are a grown adult. But it will get better. You will be acquainted with everyone, and instantly make a connection. Appreciate the benefit of listening and just being present. Although you may not see the people you share a group with, make an effort for them to feel your presence. Mutual support is a foundation of online support group so do your part. If ultimately you decide that it is not a good fit for you, consider another. Find the support group that works well for you and fits your needs and expectations. Believe us, you need it.