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It is official – today I graduate. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride, but I am glad that it ended on a positive note. The reason why I am writing is to say thank you, although thank you doesn’t seem to cut it. Your services are invaluable. Because you know the process and bureaucracy of universities, you made it easier for me to navigate the system. The weekly meetings were also beneficial because I could bounce ideas off of you as well as get a litmus check to ensure that I was on track. You just guided me along and let me learn from the process without taking over. That’s impressive because most people I know would try to take over or inject themselves. The weekly meetings held me accountable to my schedule. It’s definitely easy to procrastinate when you have an open schedule. I miss our weekly chats. Since I have finished, I may have lost my coach, but I gained a friend. I said it before and I’ll say it again – Dr. Sally you’re a rock star!
When I contacted ACW, I had been procrastinating on my dissertation for nearly three years. A master at avoidance behaviors, I felt like I either needed the push to work through the dissertation process or I needed to admit that I would never finish. Luckily, ACW helped me move forward. My coach, Chris, always knew the right way to motivate, challenge, encourage, and push me to accomplish more. I looked forward to our weekly sessions and the constructive feedback he gave. Always prepared with productive resources and just-in-time advice, Chris guided our sessions, and I found his coaching very beneficial in keeping me on track.
I found that one of the most valuable options of the dissertation coaching experience was the opportunity to participate in the ACW Writing Room and have a dedicated time for writing each day. The experience was a very comfortable way to remain faithful to the goal of making progress. My Writing Room time was early in the morning before anyone else arrived at my office. If I didn’t participate in the Writing Room for a day or two, the moderators always checked in via email to make sure I was on course and encouraged me to find time to get back in the Writing Room.
Each day I tracked progress through an accountability document on which I recorded time spent working, tasks accomplished, chores that still needed to be addressed, how I was feeling about my work, and my weekly SMART goals. The document was shared with the Writing Room moderators and with Chris, my coach, and was a daily touch-point for my progress. The accountability not only helped me inform the moderators and my coach about my work, but allowed me to see my progress over time.
My coach, the ACW Writing Room, and the accountability document were strong motivators and tools to help me stay on track to realize my goals, but the willingness to stay open-minded about the process and take advantage of the tools available rests within. I’m so glad I took full advantage of those tools and would highly recommend the ACW’s coaching and the accountability tools to anyone else willing to make the most of the experience.
I contacted ACW with the goal of finishing and defending my dissertation, and then writing articles while applying to academic and leadership positions. My coach, Moira, worked with me on framing the problem statement for the introduction to my dissertation. Moira has the ability to combine her academic professionalism and insight with understanding and warmth. She helped me make creative and practical decisions about the framing of chapter one, and my chair was pleased with the results. Then we worked together weekly on a writing schedule, strategizing meetings with my chair, and the framing of each chapter. I benefited from her sound and fresh perspectives on my drafts.
I became a better writer through this process. The weekly coaching provided the accountability I needed to meet my writing goals. Together, Moira and I brainstormed the framing of chapters and outlining of sections, and I learned a lot about that process. I always looked forward to meeting with Moira and felt challenged and inspired by our discussions about my writing. I also felt very comfortable telling her about the challenges of balancing my writing with raising a daughter, while teaching three classes in a sabbatical replacement position.
When it came time for my defense, Moira understood the defense process and recognized my anxiety, and she helped me troubleshoot how to manage the defense. As a result, I felt powerful when I entered my dissertation defense, even though I am an anxious person. I passed with minor revisions and accolades from my committee. Now we are working on articles for publication, conference papers, job applications, and revisions. I look forward to our discussions about handling interviews and revisions for journals. She is an excellent resource.
I found the ACW Writing Room to be extremely valuable too, because it helped me set up regular times to write. When using the Writing Room, I did not feel isolated. I felt like I was writing with friends. The strategy of SMART goal setting (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) was useful for me in organizing my hours, paragraphs, and days. I have passed this strategy on to my students and writing colleagues.
I also took advantage of many of the ACW webinars. They gave me additional insight into my goals and how to productively achieve them. Due to Moira’s mentorship and the availability of the Writing Room and webinars, my writing productivity increased during the past year. I also developed important strategies that I will rely on in the future. I appreciate the support that I have received from Moira in the ACW Coaching and Writing program.
I didn't think I would need a dissertation coach. I've always enjoyed writing and thought the dissertation would be an opportunity to showcase my writing skills through a subject I was passionate about. What I wasn't prepared for during my journey was the difference between academic writing and writing for pleasure. I also wasn't prepared for the stress of working with a committee through dozens and dozens of revisions, navigating APA, and turning in work to experts in the field who would scrutinize every last word. I found myself becoming anxious when approaching my writing and, instead of completing sections, I couldn't even write a few pages for fear of turning in something that wasn't good enough. I realized at that point that I might need help.
When I hired my ACW coach, Dr. Kat, I remained skeptical at first. "How many dissertations have you helped with? What do you do? What training have you had?" I asked. Dr. Kat was patient and described that her coaching was more than simply providing a writing structure or editing service—she would help with navigating the process of a dissertation (the key chapters, alignment, conciseness), the nuts and bolts of academic writing, and the process of working with a dissertation committee and understanding what exactly they need and expect. I started out slowly, not sure if coaching would meet my expectations. It didn't take long to recognize Dr. Kat's gift as a writing coach, mentor, and friend. She turned my anxiety into productivity and my fears into strengths.
Working with ACW and Dr. Kat, I felt supported every step of the way from writing my proposal to the day it was accepted. I have discovered that you can be a great writer and remain passionate about your subject while also completing the rigorous expectations of a dissertation—especially with the help of ACW.
I will always be grateful for my academic coach, Cliff. I consider him my lifesaver. I had been working on my dissertation proposal for nearly a year, had changed my topic multiple times, and had rewritten my paper repeatedly. I was so frustrated that I wanted to quit and give up on my goal of getting my doctoral degree. I spoke to the Dissertation Doctor, Dr. Sally, over the phone and she listened to me describe the problems I was having with my paper. She recommended I work with Cliff.
I remember being skeptical at first and wondering how he could help me when so many others had tried without success already, but I felt I had no other choice. I had signed a contract stating that I would be finished with my degree within a certain time frame and that time was rapidly approaching. My boss informed me that my job was in jeopardy.
I experienced immediate relief when I began working with Cliff. He understood my topic. He showed an interest in and a passion for what I was researching. Talking with Cliff gave me hope again and lit the spark of excitement that had nearly burnt out in me. He talked me through my proposal, paragraph by paragraph, discussing the areas that needed improvement and explaining why and how those improvements could be made.
Then, because writing is not something I enjoy, the process would get daunting for me. I struggled to keep myself on task. I found myself wanting to do anything other than sit down and type. So I signed up for the ACW Summer Writing Room for the socialization and accountability that I needed. There were always people logged into the Writing Room. Each week I signed up for the times I would be in the Writing Room and someone was there every day to see that I logged in. The Moderator of the room checked in on my progress, motivated me when I needed motivation, and provided me the structure I needed to make steady, continual progress. I learned to set writing goals for myself each week and I set a goal to work 10 hours each week on my writing and logged my hours. Looking at the log assured me that I was making great strides towards my daily and weekly goals. I rewarded myself each time I reached a goal, which provided additional motivation.
I finished my dissertation in half the time it would have taken me without Cliff and ACW. I am certain I could not have graduated without Cliff. He kept me from giving up on my dream and helped me see my goal through to completion. He was the first person I called when my chair said, “Congratulations, Doctor. You have passed your dissertation defense.”
As the saying goes, writing a dissertation is a lonely process. My dissertation chair could not spend the one-on-one hours I needed to help me bring my proposal up to her high standards. I was at risk of dropping out of my program. I tried trading papers with my friends, but they had their own work to do or gave me only limited feedback. When I started working with my coach, Dr. Moira, everything changed. She gave me more than academic support. She gave me the confidence to write a proposal in which I could take pride. The regularly scheduled meetings with her helped keep me on track because I work full time and am a full-time student. My coach was honest and provided me with constructive feedback. I wish that I had found the Dissertation Doctor earlier in my process! I would have saved money on tuition and a huge amount of time. I will continue to meet with Dr. Moira until I graduate— now that I see graduation in the near future.
One of the things I like best about working with Dr. Moira is that she doesn’t edit my work. She mainly offers suggestions about structure and questions me about the message I am trying to convey to my readers. She does recommend a change of phrase or word here and there, which I always appreciate. Sometimes she gives one example and then has me review a particular instance in my writing where I have continued to be less clear. I believe this type of interchange with Dr. Moira has led to my becoming a better and more confident writer, which means that during our conversations, we spend less time going over every comment she has provided on my written work.
Working with Dr. Moira exceeded my expectations. I finished my proposal ahead of schedule. We had an additional meeting after I had turned in my proposal because I needed to do a short presentation to my committee during my proposal meeting. Dr. Moira quickly picked up that my PowerPoint session was very succinct and needed little work before it went to my committee. She heard the stress in my voice and knew that what I needed was to relax and build confidence. We used the session to go through a guided imagery process to help empower me for the presentation. I felt ready to take on the world after that.
With my dissertation coach, Dr. Sally, we discussed my writing style and when I worked best, and established writing goals for each week. Although this sounds straightforward, I do not remember anyone in my academic journey ever actually discussing my writing process with me. It made a difference. I began to examine my writing style, really became aware of when I worked best, set realistic goals, and also incorporated time to balance my life. I discovered that writing the different chapters of a dissertation was an attainable goal.
The most important things I learned from examining the writing process with my dissertation coach were how to break up sections into manageable writing pieces, manage my time efficiently, and be more realistic about how much solid writing I could expect to do every day. Originally, I thought I would be able to write 7-8 hours a day, but quickly learned from being in discussion with my dissertation coach, that for this kind of writing, 7-8 hours was unrealistic. I learned to be reasonable, and 4 or 5 hours was the maximum amount of time I could write and still allow myself to be fresh every day, stay excited about what I was writing about, and keep a balanced life.
From start to finish, The Dissertation Doctor delivered. I worked on my dissertation for several years with mixed results, but could not have been more pleased with the services, wisdom, and professionalism I encountered at The Dissertation Doctor. I was personally matched with a very capable coach and the productivity began. Dr. Kat, my coach, was both scholarly and accommodating, not to mention worth every penny. I count myself most fortunate to have worked with Dr Kat. I am forever in debt to her for her knowledge, her expertise, and her understanding as she helped me set realistic goals and guided me through my Ph.D. Dissertation process. Thanks to Dr. Kat and The Dissertation Doctor for a great Ph.D experience! Look no further for a dissertation consulting and coaching company. From ABD to Ph.D, The Dissertation Doctor, is the complete personalized package.
Dr Kat quickly became my coach, my editor, and my mentor. Her experience with the process and her expertise were invaluable. Many times she used analogies to explain how I could overcome an obstacle or provided me with the much needed incentive to keep me going. Attending an online University can sometimes be isolating and confusing, but Dr Kat provided the life-line to answer questions, validate my frustrations, and help me continue moving forward toward attaining my doctoral degree.
Dr. Kat and I set up weekly phone meetings to review and discuss submitted drafts. This weekly schedule helped keep me focused and constantly working on revisions. This is a very important aspect of any project, and I found this accountability a necessity to keep me moving forward despite personal challenges and challenges from the University.Dr Kat gave me the strengths, the tools, the knowledge, and the confidence to finish the dissertation on my own.I successfully defended my dissertation 12-12-12 and have had a paper peer reviewed and accepted to be presented at the AERA 2013 Conference. I am pleased to share my success and look forward to the future with a PhD!
School has always been easy for me. I knew how to play the game and get by. However, when I reached the point where the classes ended and writing the dissertation began, everything changed. I was not very confident that I could tackle this behemoth, and if I did not finish it, I would fail...something I did not do. The fear of failure paralyzed me.
I can remember the day I finally faced my fear. It was the same day I spoke with Dr. Sally for the 30-minute consultation. Speaking with her about coaching and the ACW Writing Room shone a light into the dark hole that housed my dissertation. I realized that there are tools and people out there to help.
I am not alone.
I can do this.
Once I decided I could write my dissertation, I knew I had to address my fears or this would not be a fulfilling experience. My first phone call with my coach, Dr. Kat Malinsky, was life changing. She knew all the right questions to ask about me: work, school, aspirations. Several tears later, a nurturing relationship was born. Dr. Kat’s support through this process allowed me to explore my strengths and weaknesses in a trusting, respectful, and compassionate environment. Her guidance nurtured my budding confidence and inspired me to be greater than myself. We created a new, more whole version of “me” in our time together. We laugh when we refer to the “old Lindsay,” but this is such a provocative metaphor to what her coaching has done for me...together we created a writer and a scholar who is enjoying the dissertation process!
Dr. Kat’s coaching, combined with the 119 hours spent in the Writing Room over 12 weeks, allowed me to successfully write and defend my proposal. My committee loved my work, lauding its clarity and contribution to the field. They even want to use it as an example for other students in my program.
I am still astonished that I completed three chapters in two months and with very little stress. Dr. Kat always encouraged balance. Through this process, I learned that my personal balance includes writing first thing in the morning, yoga, and teaching. I believe the key to developing as a writer is to find your balance and keep your goals in focus. My yoga instructor tells each of us to visualize a picture of our lovable future...and to carry that with us into our practice. If you can see yourself graduating, getting a job, or writing that book, you are writing towards that future! I encourage all of you to imagine yourself in your lovable future before you write.
Dr. Sally walks the talk and that makes all the difference. Dr. Sally is bright, organized, professional, has an amazing energy, and shares lots of resources. She really helps you move forward in your life starting at the inside. She helps you get rid of your gremlins and be the person you were meant to be. I grew the most in the years that she was my coach and I would work with her again in the future. She helped me complete my dissertation, begin my business, get trademarked, and I would hire her to get any project such as writing a book or large project at work completed while still enjoying the process. I highly recommend her services and not just to those writing dissertations, she is all around a top notch life coach!
My experience working with a dissertation coach and participating in the Writing Room has been a very rewarding one. I am working with Dr. Kat Malinsky, a very experienced professional who has helped me to successfully achieve my goals of completing the premise statement, prospectus, and Chapters 1 and 2 of my dissertation proposal. I am currently focusing on completing Chapter 3. The literature review conducted in Chapter 2 was a daunting task for me. With the help of Dr. Kat, I was able to overcome anxiety, discouragement, and feelings of being overwhelmed. Dr. Kat’s patience, guidance, encouragement, and tools suggested for literature analysis helped me to make my way through the literature fog. Although I struggle at times with creating a logical flow of ideas and connecting the dots from one point to the next, I still have maintained confidence in my writing skill and ability to present relevant material to argue my topic.
My participation in the Writing Room, along with my determination and commitment to complete the dissertation process, have kept me focused and on target with achieving my goals. I love the flexibility the Writing Room gives me for times to participate in the writing sessions and the opportunities it provides to share my experiences with others. The accountability chart has been a great tool for helping me keep track of weekly goals and for staying focused. I have also found the Writing Room to be a wonderful platform for encouraging others in this dissertation journey!
Reaching out to Academic Coaching and Writing (ACW) has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Writing a dissertation can be a very daunting and excruciating process, and one, that for a while, I took for granted. I was facing a deadline that was rapidly approaching when I decided to search on line for a dissertation coach. I reviewed the Dissertation Coach testimonials and decided to schedule the free consultation to get more information. After my phone consultation with Dr. Sally, I was matched with Dr. Kat as my coach. I remember how anxious and nervous I was in anticipation of my first meeting with Dr. Kat. Although I had been working on my dissertation for a while, I felt lost and in need of guidance. I wanted more one-on-one support and accountability for what I was doing. From the first day I spoke with Dr. Kat, I realized she would deliver everything I needed, and I started believing that I would reach the finish line.
Since English is my second language, writing on the scholarly level required for a doctoral dissertation scared me, but Dr. Kat dissipated those fears and helped me make consistent progress in my writing. Dr. Kat’s encouragement and support throughout this process truly made a difference. Our weekly online meetings were like checkpoints to ensure I was staying on the right track and organizing my ideas for the next seven days of writing. These meetings provided me with the opportunity to share my thoughts and ask those questions my dissertation chair was too busy to answer. Dr. Kat also took these meetings as opportunities to not only check on my work, but to check on “me." She would give me that push and boost of confidence I needed to keep me moving forward.
I am glad I decided to hire ACW and to have worked with Dr. Kat. Last December I successfully defended my dissertation and will very soon receive the bound copy of my doctoral dissertation. It feels amazing to finally achieve the huge milestone of acquiring a doctoral degree. A few days ago I received my first piece of mail addressed to Dr. Nancy Martinez, and it was wonderful! I created an acrostic using the word “coach” to represent the most important benefits of having Dr. Kat sharing this journey with me:
C - Confidence
O - Organization
A - Accountability
C - Check Point
H - Hooray!
Some journeys are exhilarating and some are downright scary. Funding my program was the scariest thing for me. Ultimately, I obtained the money, charted my doctoral course, and left on my journey up the dissertation mountain. I planned to take three years. Soon my anticipated three-year journey turned into an eight-year nightmare. It took me two years to take the preliminary courses, and I aced all of them. I felt completely ready for the final phase, and then it happened… I got lost, very lost, with no road markers, no signs and no GPS (Graduate Professional Services) to turn to.
With no clue for where to begin, I had dissertation numbness. I was shrouded in a fog and couldn’t breathe or see the keyboard in front of me. Then it dawned on me: I was ill prepared to make this final phase of the journey. There was a mountain in front of me and it appeared insurmountable. So, as any lost and confused climber would do, I turned to the Internet and, as luck would have it, found my research study Sherpa, Dr. Sally Jensen.
Dr. Sally had been to the dissertation mountaintop many times and knew that every climber needs to find their own way. Soon Sherpa Sally had me motivated. The fog lifted, and the dissertation base camp was in sight. Many times my oxygen ran low, my fuel ran out, and I had no food for thought. Dr. Sally always managed to “SAVE” the journey by bringing in whatever supplies I needed.
I am just about ready to stake my claim at the top of Mount Dissertation. Dr. Jensen’s knowledge of the doctoral landscape, her experience providing GPS (Graduate Professional Services), and her amazing ability to “supply oxygen” when I was in danger of succumbing to dissertation sickness have enabled me to complete the “climb” successfully.
"Basically, I needed someone to mother me through my dissertation," she says. "It requires you to face up to your demons, you need somebody who's been through the process... and sometimes you need somebody to let your hair down with that you don't have to worry about politically how this will effect your dissertation. My advisor is a wonderful person, but with Sally I can rant and rave -- and get good advice. " Read complete article »
I am certain many individuals will write of the wonders of your assistance or motivation but I would like for people to know of your integrity. Your integrity is pervasive ~ your work, standards, communications, attitude, and assistance are for those individuals who aspire to also have integrity and to build a great foundation for their future based on their time with you. My time with you all has been tailored to me and has met the many areas of need one faces during times of challenge beyond the academia. Not only was I provided a great mentor but also with encouragement and the support that many others cannot understand, much less provide, for those walking through a dissertation. I most appreciated that the work and the insight were mine to claim and own and produce. However, I also was most appreciative that I had a mentor who could speak to my topic and interests instead of speaking in vague generalities regarding the dissertation process. Thank you Dr. Sally. Thank you Dr. Moira. You guys are beyond compare.
I just wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation for all your help and guidance. You are amazing at what you do. I never would have been able to do this without you. If I can ever provide testimony or reference to your abilities I would be happy to do so. I think “Dissertation Doctor” is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and I did give you your well deserved credit in my acknowledgements.
Dr. Sally, you have unquestionably earned my respect. I would like to express my earnest gratitude to you for sharing your innate ability to always use the right words at key times of my academic journey, especially when I thought I had reached my peak of despair. Your intervention was pivotal when I felt isolated and became quite self-absorbed, stranded and disconnected. Your coaching has been invaluable. The services that you rendered always seemed to have the human elements of moral and emotional support. The intelligence and brilliance that you possess and impart through your coaching techniques have ultimately resulted in the successful defense of my dissertation. The long process of getting through the seemingly impossible goal could have only been accomplished because you were committed to getting me focused. Dr. Sally, may you never extinguish that helpful demeanour.
Since I am a mid-life learner, I chose to attend a school without walls. There were only two times a year that the scholarly community met, in January and July. For six years, I struggled; completing course requirements slowly, with great insecurity about my ability as a scholar, and alone. For many years, I wondered whether I would complete the program. Finally, I made the decision to complete the work; and knew I couldn't possibly go it alone. At that point, and at the beginning of the Proposal stage, I searched the Internet for help. Dissertation Doctor appeared, as did four or five others. After interviewing them all on-line, I spoke to three of the individuals in person to see what their services included and to see with whom I had rapport. Ultimately, I decided on Dr. Sally. The coaching has been invaluable in a number of ways: Weekly, hourly appointments help to keep me engaged with the work and on track. Dr. Sally continually assists me to create and reassess a realistic timeline. Each weekly session is devoted to my needs; including content decisions, emotional and moral support, and the management of my committee. Throughout the process, my skills as scholar have developed. Under her watchful and gentle tutelage, I have matured as an author and no longer feel the dreadful insecurity that stymied my progress in the past. I greatly recommend the coaching process generally, and Dr. Sally specifically.
Dr. Sally is committed, focused, and walks in integrity. I work in excellence on my dissertation because I have a coach who keeps me on track each step of the way.
Why do I make time for coaching during the dissertation process?
Dr. Sally is the lighthouse beacon slowly turning to illuminate where my shadows have started to cover the tides and rhythms of this lengthy dissertations process. Sometimes she is the foghorn that interrupts my course when I am heading for the rocks. She has even been the night watchman searching through the wreckage with me to salvage what is needed to continue on. Through our years together, I have always known I could walk in the light with her, or stumble around on the rocky coast by myself. Dr. Sally reminds me of the RCMP icebreakers -- the toughest (and smallest) ships in the Canadian fleet. She always finds the seam in the ice that will let the light through and show the way for opening frozen, dense energy systems that I hardly know are there. Thank you, dear partner in the journey for all the breakthroughs.
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