Writing and Presenting Your
Thesis or Dissertation
S. Joseph Levine, Ph.D.
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan USA
Note #10 - Why do you want to get a graduate degree?
I know you are all very busy working on the development/completion of your thesis or dissertation. However, take just a few minutes to consider the following question -
"Why do you want to get a graduate degree?"
There are many different answers to this question. See if I identify your answer.
Possible answers to the question -
And here is what I think may be the best answer and the one that is most likely to lead you to the completion of your graduate degree -
#1 "I am working on a graduate degree because it is expected of me." Sometimes it is family that has the expectation and other times it is colleagues or fellow workers. However I have found that students that are doing a graduate degree because it is "expected of me" are often not strongly committed to the degree or motivated to complete it in a timely way. These students will sometimes complete the degree (though not always) because they feel considerable external pressure on them and they want to avoid being seen by others as a failure. I wish they had not started the degree. Life would be a lot nicer for them.
#2 "I am working on a graduate degree because I really did not want to start a job at this time." Not such a good answer! If the real reason why you are working on a graduate degree is so that you can avoid something else you will probably never finish the degree. In fact, you will probably find that after awhile you will move to other activities that will continue to help you avoid getting a job (or avoid whatever it is that you are avoiding). Using a graduate degree program to avoid something else is usually not a strong enough motivation for completing the graduate degree program.
#3 "I am working on a graduate degree because... well, I guess I really don't know why I'm doing it." If this is you it really isn't such a good response. A graduate program is usually very demanding and if you really don't know why you are working on a graduate degree there is a very high chance that you will never complete the degree - you will drop out along the way. To complete a graduate degree usually requires a lot of self-discipline. You are in charge of your actions and it is up to you to move through your graduate prograsm. The program won't pull you through. If you don't know why you're in the program you probably won't have the needed push to move through the program to the end.
#4 "I am working on a graduate degree because it is fun." WOW! Believe it or not I have actually seen this type of student. They are usually highly motivated and really enjoy what they are doing. They tend to be very positive in their studies. For a faculty member this is a wonderful type of student to have since they are always asking for ideas on what to do, how to do it, what else to do, etc. etc. And then they move forward and do what you suggest. The very important thing for this type of graduate student is to find an academic advisor who appreciates his/her excitement and encourages it.
#5 "I am working on a graduate degree because I have dreamed about doing this for many years." This is probably one of the strongest and most defensible answers to have. If this is your answer you are probably a student who will complete the degree. A person who has dreamed about having a graduate degree can usually imagine themselves with the degree already finished. It is as if, in their mind, they have moved on with the degree and are using the degree to become a professional in their field. Close your eyes for a minute. Can you imagine yourself having completed your graduate degree? Does it feel good? Great! Now go ahead and complete your degree.
Return to Facebook Notes
Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation