Dean Michael Patchner tells new PhD students that perseverance and persistence are key to finishing doctoral program

Indiana University School of Social Work Dean Michael Patchner told new PhD students there are two critical elements that can guarantee their success in the doctoral program: perseverance and persistence.

“You don’t have to be the most intelligent person in the world. In fact I have seen some of the most intelligent people in the world not able to get through,” the dean noted. He reminded them that the very fact they have been selected to be a doctoral student at the School means they have the intellectual capabilities to be successful.”

Dean PatchnerThe PhD program is a partnership where the School offers them best resources from technology to an outstanding faculty, Patchner said.  The faculty “will bend over backwards to do whatever they can to make sure you are successful in this program.” The School’s faculty have gotten grants, are doing research and are being published all over, he noted. “Their resumes are truly impressive.”

“We have a family atmosphere here. Our goal is to make you successful. We have all these ingredients in place. The one ingredient that we don’t have and can’t be responsible for – that is what you bring.” What students need to provide is motivation, commitment, hard work and perseverance. “I often say that being in the doctoral program is 10 percent intellectual and 90 percent perseverance.”

“You will be challenged and that’s why you are here – to grow and to develop,” Patchner explained. You have to work and make this a goal and make a commitment that you want to finish. People will often get through the course work portion and then fall down on the dissertation portion of the doctoral program. “There are many people who are “ABD’s” out there – all but dissertation, so they did all the work except their dissertation.

“Quite honestly, that doesn’t count for a hill of beans,” Patchner added. “Sometimes it’s a negative. Many people look at it as an all but done. You did everything but finish, so you don’t want to be ABD, you want to finish this program we will do everything we can to assure you finish this program.”

Patchner offered advice on the best way to avoid becoming an ABD. When they get to the dissertation phase of the program, commit 15 minutes a day to their research. “If you do that seven days a week, I guarantee you will finish. It is persistence and perseverance and I know in my heart that 15 minutes a day – some days it will be 15 minutes, other days a half-hour and sometimes the whole day, but 15 minutes a day and you will get done and I promise you that.”

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Rob Schneider
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