Starting your Master's is a big step and is an exciting new chapter in your life, but the work and stress that can come along with it can be demanding at times! For me, even though I am in a course-based program I am still required to write a 15,000-18,000-word dissertation now that my classes are done. I am only a few months away from submitting (yay!) and thought I would share some helpful tips that have allowed me to stay focused and on-track so far!
I know this one has been said to you time and time again ever since you started school, but this tip is actually very important for a big piece of writing like this. This is one assignment that you cannot do at the last minute and requires a lot of planning in advance. If you don’t pick a topic early enough you won’t be able to submit ethics in time, which means you can’t start collecting data in time and then won’t have anything to write about before the submission deadline! Start early, even if this means just writing down topic ideas as they come to you and doing some research to see what’s been done already. I have classmates who have are still waiting to hear back from ethics (its mid-July currently) and may not finish in time for our submission deadline (mid-September) meaning they will have to delay their submission and therefore their graduation date, which is not fun to think about considering all the time and hard work we’ve all put in to this course!
It may seem daunting at first to pick a topic, but that’s okay. You don’t have to stick with what you decide on initially! My topic was tweaked and adjusted many times before I finally decided what to do. Try not to stress and just do the best you can at the time, I promise you can do it!
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others – Do What’s Best for You
There’s probably some people in your course who will finish their dissertation weeks or months before the due date, and others who will still be writing hours before the deadline (this is ill-advised as you need to plan for time to print your dissertation and have it bound properly). This is okay though, everyone is different. Some work better under pressure or are busy with other important commitments, and others may have what seems like all the time in the world to be able to go to the library and write. It’s important to know how you work best and stick with that. If you do your best writing at night, don’t force yourself to try and spend all day in the library. I have often spent my day doing other thing only to do my best writing after 11pm – whatever works right? Of course, it’s good to have friends to check-in with to make sure you are all making progress (whatever that means for you), but don’t let that one friend who can write 3,000 words in one sitting pressure you into feeling in-adequate. You made it this far because of your own skills, know that they can help carry you over the finish line!
Take Time for You
Some days it’s just not going to work. Know that this is okay and that if you follow the step above by starting early, taking a day off because things aren’t working is totally fine! I recently had a bit of writers block so I took a nice, short 2-night trip to Scotland to clear my mind and get away from the confines of my dorm room and the campus. Looking after yourself and making sure you are feeling good will help you prepare to face your dissertation the next day (or the day after that haha). Taking time for you can be as small of an effort as turning off all screens an hour before you sleep (which is recommended anyways for a better sleep) or binging an entire Netflix series of two! Making sure you are at your best personally will help make your work be the best it can be. Don’t try and force things if they aren’t working! Take a step back, relax, and breathe – you got this!
These are just a few tips to help you when writing your dissertation! If you are feeling up to the challenge and are considering studying abroad Across The Pond can help. Please contact one of our Advisors today for more information!