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GradSchooler

Dissertation coaching and writing groups

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Let me preface this by saying that I was always very skeptical and eye-rolling of "life coaching" or "dating coaching" or "career coaching" and stuff like that. It always seemed really woo to me, and like a complete waste of money. 

However, when I was going into the final funded year of my PhD, and facing down the job market in the fall, I decided to just bite the bullet and hire a dissertation coach. I was having problems with my advisor and just really needed to involve a third party to get some perspective. So I hired one for about $100 a month, which wasn't cheap, but I do think it was the best money I spent in grad school. 

You have to be aware that a diss coach isn't a mini-advisor--they aren't going to read your dissertation or be able to offer substantive advice. But they can encourage you and gently hold you accountable. Knowing I was going to talk/skype with someone once a week about my progress helped me stay motivated. It was also nice to be able to talk to someone about some of the difficulties I was having with my advisor and some of my anxieties about the job market. Or, say I got a snarky reader's report back from a journal. Again, it was nice to be able to talk to someone about it without unloading it on my advisor or a family member (who wouldn't really be able to sympathize much, not having been in academia). I thought of it more like academic therapy than "dissertation coaching," and yeah, for me it was what I really needed in that moment. 

Years later (out of grad school) I tried one of those online writing clubs where everyone logs on once or twice a day and discusses their progress and sets goals for the next day. I found this less helpful and left after a month. It was just too impersonal--no one really chatted or got to know each other, and the advice the group coordinator gave was canned (probably recycled from previous sessions), so it just didn't work for me.

 

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