When I was in the deep throes of writing my dissertation, I was a co-facilitator for a group called, “Let’s Finish.” We were all working on our theses or dissertations at different campuses and different areas of studies. There were some working on graduate degrees in Leadership, Education, History, Political Science, as well as other programs.
What I remember most about the process—being able to co-mentor peers. As one of the co-facilitators I was further along on my dissertation and had previously written a thesis. This allowed me to bring that experience to the table. I am also a really good listener and given that my research was about women in higher education (Political Science), I was well versed with a whole host of women in higher education issues. Personally, it was good to feel accountable to a group of other people who were my peers.
There is a different dynamic with your peers. They will not hold back their comments, but at the same time they are generous. I don’t know about you, but there were times that my heart would beat faster as I sat down to chat about my project with my advisor. And, she’s a really wonderful feminist scholar. When I would meet with the Let’s Finish women (yes, the crew were all women), I felt a sense of excited anticipation. Some of our meetings were about how to stay focused, what do when you’re suffering from writer’s block, and we would also review one another’s work.
It was a no bullshit zone, so at times things could get interesting. But, the conversations were always meant to help everyone move forward with their projects. We cheered one another’s successes and gave relationship advice if needed. The writing experience is an isolating one and sometimes you just need to have an audience to bounce your ideas off. I will always look back fondly at Let’s Finish. My words of advice to students working on a thesis or dissertation is that a good writing group is priceless—get another person or a group together and establish the expectations and then meet.