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Chapter 21. Cramming for Exams and Other... > Procrastination in Graduate School - Pg. 225

Cramming for Exams and Other Fine Academic Traditions 225 All But Dissertation, All Because of Procrastination In How to Complete and Survive a Doctoral Dissertation , author David Sternberg cites a personal ad from the November 22, 1979 issue of the New York Review of Books : "33-year-old, attractive woman, having just finished her doctorate, is ready to enjoy life again and would like to meet an adventurous man." Looking for Dr. Goodbar and the good life is what a lot of recent doctorates are ready to do. This ad no doubt speaks for many women and men who felt that, while they were completing their ad- vanced degree, they didn't have much of a life, particularly during the thesis or dissertation stage. Many students proceed through their graduate-level classes just fine, then they get hit with major procrastination when it comes time to start or finish the final project. So many students get stuck at the dissertation stage, in fact, that a couple of decades ago, the term A.B.D. (All But Dissertation) was coined to describe them. Unfortunately, many students never make it from A.B.D. to Ph.D., and that's A.B.P. : All Because of Procrastination. A lot of students are unprepared for the massive scope, nebulous deadlines, long duration, and autonomy involved in writing a dissertation. They simply don't have the organizational skills to plan and execute such a major project. Some get hung up at the beginning because they agonize over choosing a topic. Others have no trouble getting started, but they run out of steam along the way as they begin to lose interest, hit writer's block, or become distracted by other responsibilities. Getting from A.B.D. and A.B.P. to Ph.D. If you find yourself with the dubious distinction of being A.B.D., you probably worry that your career opportunities are limited and you may even feel that your self-esteem has taken a real blow. Being A.B.D. often makes people feel like failures. The answer to getting out of this rut lies in three areas.