I graduated with my doctorate in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City in the US. Before anyone thinks that education at ivy league or prestigious universities is without its problems let me tell you that is not the case. I fired my first advisor - she was condescending, did not listen and could not grasp that I knew what I wanted to do. Rather than helping me figure out how to get it done, she continued to throw extraneous ideas at me. To top it off, she was next to impossible to get ahold of. Fortunately my department turned me over to Dr. Bob Monson - a wonderful and supportive man with whom I maintain a collegial relationship to this day. We were not friends, but he offered advise and I knew I could go to him when stuck. He also acted as an advocate with the university when I needed one. His eye was on the ball - that of graduation and the timing of my graduation was very important to me because I was leaving the US to live in Ireland.
Now, after eight years of helping doctoral candidates graduate I have seen most all of the stories possible from the other side of that same desk. I have come to understand that what is missing in a lot of doctoral candidates understanding, as it certainly was missing from mine, is some idea of the engineering behind the dissertation or thesis research final document. As Maria is fond of pointing out, "There are a lot of ways to get to the finish line but you must be consistent." My father was an engineer and so, with that mindset and my frustration for the students I was helping, I developed the DoctoralNet Map. It and the content to which it links would have been all the help I needed when I was in your shoes.
I have also seen the challenges of this journey going on too long, as life has a way of intervening and throwing a doctoral candidate off their path of writing a dissertation. That is the reason that we are geared to big pushes, fast starts, helping people quickly over their confusion and then pushing through to the finish line in whatever way we can.
I have also learned that listening is important, and that doctoral students generally know or at least sense the help they need, but that sometimes articulating that can be difficult. We are committed to listening and communicating back and forth past confusion and on to success.