The Prospectus Blues and Burnout

Academic News & Updates

Many students I speak with say something like, “I made straight A’s in my courses, so why can’t I get my prospectus approved?”  It’s a common, and frustrating, circumstance. One reason is that classes are time-limited, you have colleagues to help, and you have one instructor. The dissertation process is just the opposite. There is no time limit, it’s a solo process, and you have a chairperson, a committee, IRB, and university reviewers (all of which don’t necessarily agree upon the best approach).

So, what is a student to do? I think acknowledging that the dissertation process is very different is the first step. Self-care to sustain the marathon process—school-life balance.  Getting support. Not taking things personally. Careful editing (pruning is often helpful in the process). Staying motivated. Acknowledging and addressing the emotional exhaustion and depersonalization that may accompany the dissertation process.

Here are signs of burnout:

  • I don’t deal very effectively with the dissertation revisions
  • I feel I treat my committee as if they were impersonal objects
  • I feel emotionally drained from my dissertation work
  • I feel fatigued when I get up in the morning and must face another day writing
  • Working on my dissertation is really a strain for me
  • I think of giving up my doctorate
  • I regret my decision to attain my doctorate

If you agreed with any of these statements, you may be experiencing some level of burnout. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following:

  • Manage the stressors that contribute to school burnout.Once you’ve identified what’s fueling your feelings of school burnout, you can make a plan to address the issues.
  • Evaluate your options.Discuss specific concerns with your committee.
  • Adjust your attitude.If you’ve become cynical with schoolwork, consider ways to improve your outlook. Take short breaks throughout the day.
  • Seek support.Whether you reach out to colleagues, friends or loved ones, or a company like Statistics Solutions, support and collaboration might help you cope with school stress and feelings of burnout.
  • Get some exercise.Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress.
  • Get some sleep. Aim for at least 7-8 hours each night.

Help is here. Learn more about the type of confidential help available from our company by scheduling a free consultation with me. You can schedule here. Stay motivated. Graduate.


James Lani, PhD

A partial list of students’ Universities we’ve helped:

  • NCU
  • U of P
  • Argosy
  • Walden
  • Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  • American University
  • Capella
  • Concordia
  • Florida Atlanta
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