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It Is Impossible to Schedule Six People Simultaneously

2009 April 22
by Richard N. Landers
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May 6!

May 6!

Well, not impossible.  But very difficult!  Especially if the five people that you are e-mailing don’t all check their e-mail at least every day or two.  But after 31 total e-mails over the course of a week, I have a defense date – May 6.

I’m not nervous…  Yet.

What this has shown me is that I must respond to graduate students by e-mail within at least 24 hours for me to be happy with my interactions with my advisees.  I’ve been told by some that this is an unreasonable expectation and also, by others, that 24 hours should be an absolute maximum.  I imagine I will ultimately land somewhere in the middle.

I also learned today that technically, the defense involves two components: a public presentation and a private examination.  The presentation  can technically be attended by anyone, although in practice, no one else ever shows up.  So before two weeks from today, I need to prepare a short (probably 30-45 minute) presentation primarily about my results and discussion – all of the new material since my proposal meeting.

Also, now suddenly having more free time than I have in 6 months, I am finally able to get back to several projects that I have been putting off.  I noticed during my second or third year of graduate school that my to-do list shifted from a procrastination model (putting off projects because I didn’t want to do them yet) to a necessity model (putting off projects because other projects needed to get done).  I don’t imagine it’ll ever switch back.

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  1. Nicole Neff permalink
    May 1, 2009

    Hi Richard,

    First, I like your blog. I considered doing one about my internship, but we aren’t allowed to publish things without approval from the company and now our regulator, so I figured even tangentially work related things could possibly get me in trouble.

    Our defense is similar, only that the presentation isn’t public (I’d think it’d be nice if people could come and actually did come though). But in ours it’s pretty common that the committee interrupts you during the presentation to ask questions, so it takes a long while to get through it all.

    Good luck on your defense, and I’m sure you’ll do great!

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