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ABDs, Better Together

On the road of the doctoral journey, there is a destination that graduate students aspire to get to but hope not to stay at too long. That destination is the ABD, or “All But Dissertation” phase. This stage can be one of the most challenging and isolating for doctoral students as there are no more formal deadlines and consistent contact with students or faculty no longer exists — unless there is a deliberate effort. With this in mind, I am excited about our new GSEE Dissertation Writing Group, the ABDs, which aims to counter the isolation experienced by doctoral students by providing support, resources, structure and accountability.

This autumn quarter, the ABDs began meeting weekly in two separate groups to write together and provide feedback for one another. It is incredibly rewarding to hear the students express appreciation for this opportunity and for them to share that they feel supported and productive. Another enjoyable part of the writing group is the large group quarterly meetings.  During these gatherings, guest speakers discuss poignant and relevant information about the trials and triumphs of dissertation writing and students share updates on their research progress and goals. During the ABD stage, doctoral students must generate and rely on an enormous amount of intrinsic motivation to complete their dissertation while juggling life outside of the academic world. It is critical for students to feel supported — I always look forward to my bi-weekly check-ins with both groups to make sure things are going well, to provide new resources and tips and to assess their needs. It has been a rewarding endeavor to walk with these students during this phase of their doctoral journey. All of us at GSEE are looking forward to celebrating their amazing research and success!

—Carolyn Jackson, GSEE’s Outreach & Recruitment Officer