Sunday, August 17, 2008

Master Plan in bullet form!

I have a couple of big benchmarks coming up in fall 2008:
  • First committee meeting. In 2 weeks!
  • Qualifier: Basically you submit a 3-year grant proposal to your committee. If approved, you have 30 days to write the full grant. You turn this in, and defend your work(presentation/grill session) two weeks later. Once completed, you are considered an "official" candidate of the PhD program. Whatever that means. I must complete this by March 2009.
  • Small local meeting in Oct
  • Meeting in New Orleans in early Dec.
  • Fellowship application due in Jan. Contingent on completion of the qualifier.

I'm also a student representative for the department, along with another student (we interface between students and faculty, plan student activities etc.) and I help set up micro labs for the medical students. It's going to be a lot.

So I sat down yesterday and tried to map out how I want things to work. I'm not too worried about the committee meeting coming up - I have the presentation started and I've made pretty good progress research-wise. It's a good way to get a feel for the members of my committee because there are a couple of people on there who I don't know very well.

I'd like to complete the qualifier right before Thanksgiving; around Nov. 21st. To do this, I would need to hand in my proposal in early October. Which gives me all of September to write it. This is really the most difficult part of the process, because you have to do an extensive lit review and come up with a unique idea of the appropriate size to test. I'm sure writing the document will be hard, but once you have the proposal submitted things are at least on track. October seems really soon! But instead of constantly thinking about all this, I want to get started. I think if I get up in front of my committee in two weeks and verbalize this plan, it will keep me from procrastinating.

I don't have any idea what is involved in the fellowship application. The deadline will be posted on Sept. 15th, so I don't even know when it's due. I think I'll put this one on the back burner for now.

I want to make the process as streamlined and panic-free as possible. I'm not good at cranking things out last minute (hence the committee presentation that is already mostly finished). I will have to work at keeping the lack-of-confidence monster at bay (Is this idea good enough? Will my committee rip me apart? What if I fail? How do I compare to other students? etc).

I know from the past that when I get super busy like this I tend to totally disengage from the rest of my life. I don't spend as much time with my husband, I'll avoid trips to visit my parents and won't commit to any social events that might take time away from working. Months will pass in a total blur. I really don't want this to be the case this time around; I want to enjoy the new house and fall weather, take time to celebrate our anniversary, and attend our friends' wedding in October. We'll see how all this works out!



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