Debunking the Myth

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        FOR THE FIRST 18

            MONTHS OF A



A Proven Plan For Completing
A Ph.D. Degree

                               Samuel E. Jones, Ph.D.
Samuel’s Story

Samuel E. Jones was born in Birmingham, Alabama. After completing high school he moved
to California where he lived for 15 years. While in California he completed his Bachelors and
Master’s degrees becoming the first and only of his six siblings to complete a college degree.
He returned to Alabama after completing his master’s degree. However, he wasn’t happy
with the direction his life and career were heading. So, he decided to take on the challenge of
applying for a Ph.D. program. After taking cram courses and studying several prep manuals
for the G.R.E. and M.A.T., his test scores proved to be uninspiring. He applied for but was
denied admission into two programs at local universities in Alabama. However, this did not
stop his determination. Jones persevered, overcame obstacles, and was admitted into a Ph.D.
program at the University of Alabama.

Dr. Jones has earned the following degrees:

Ph.D. (Psychology); University of Alabama
M.S. (Human Development); University of Alabama
M.A. (Psychology); University of Alabama
M.S. (Counseling); California State University, Fullerton
B.S. (Psychology); California State University, Fullerton

In this workshop you will learn several vital keys that made Samuel Jones into Dr. Samuel
Jones. You will also learn how to take these keys and pave the way to your success!

In His Own Words
“Upon entering the Ph.D. program in 1996, I was without a doubt the most motivated,
excited, and hardest working student in America. However, I made hundreds of mistakes and
did a lot of stupid things. I’ve learned from those mistakes and now I want to help you
succeed and complete your doctorate degree in a timely manner.”

Mission Statement:

This workshop provides common sense knowledge regarding discipline,
commitment to hard work, and practical tools to give you the motivation to
succeed and complete your degree.

If you do the smart things now, you will complete the degree

Debunking the Myth

If you tell a lie, spread a _______________ often enough, loud enough, and long
enough the myth becomes accepted as __________________.

Myth: I don’t have what it takes to be ________________________ in a Ph.D.
Truth: The Ph.D. is the highest degree offered. It takes discipline, hard work,
and prayer to succeed. With the right help, you can succeed.
Myth: My g.p.a. and entrance exam _________ are too low to succeed in
graduate school and they are good indicators on how well I’m going to do.
Truth: G.P.A. and entrance exams are not good predictors of how well one
does in a Ph.D. program. Primarily they are used to weed out the large number
of students who apply for doctoral programs. Better indicators are mentioned
above and include good advising/mentorship.
Myth: I’m too ___________ to go back to school and succeed.
Truth: You are never too old to learn. The average age of doctoral students is
35. The average age of a black Ph.D. recipient in 2002 was 37.5 compared to
33.9 for white Americans (NORC). Besides, the older you are the more serious
you may be about succeeding.
Myth: There is no ________________ aid for graduate students and I’ll have to
go deep into debt taking out student loans.
Truth: There is lots of money available for graduate students including
fellowships, scholarships, teaching & research assistantships, and special
programs. You will just have to do your research to find the money. Avoid

If you do the smart things now, you will complete the degree

credit card debt! A recent report found that the average graduate student in
2003 carried six credit cards (Nellie Mae, 2004). The report indicated that
graduate students accrued high credit card balances to help support them while
in school.
Myth: The work is too _______________ in a Ph.D. program.
Truth: The work is challenging. However, when you apply the right tools and
are determined to succeed, YOU WILL.
Myth: It takes ________            _____________to complete a Ph.D. program.
Truth: The average time to complete a Ph.D. program is just 4 ½ years.
Myth: The Dissertation is an __________________ task and I will never finish
Truth: A dissertation doesn’t have to be an unbearable task. If you do the right
things in your first two years of the program, you will finish in a timely manner.
Myth: I won’t enjoy ______________ and I won’t have a ___________ while
in a Ph.D. program.
Truth: This is up to you. It is important that you balance your Ph.D. program
with doing other things unrelated to school.
Myth: Minorities are __________________ of completing a Ph.D. program.
Truth: In 2000, for the sixth consecutive year, the number of African
Americans earning doctorates (1656) reached an all-time high (JBHE, May,
2005). Also reported, in 2002 blacks earned 6.3 percent of all doctorates
awarded to U.S. citizen. In 1990 it was 3.6 percent.
Myth: A professor’s life is not ___________________.

If you do the smart things now, you will complete the degree

Truth: Not true, there are many exciting things about being a college

If you do the smart things, you will complete the degree
                            Do These Things Before Starting

     _________________ or _____________ in the chosen field to help clarify
        if it’s something you really want to do and to help clarify your interests
        and goals.
     Be _____________ about what you intend to study and commit to
     Speak with _______________ in the department into which you will be
        matriculating . Ask about their research and share with them your
     If possible speak with ______ students in the department and the
        ___________ students. Ask about faculty support and “one-on-one”
        mentoring. Find out the nuts and bolts of what’s going on and how they
        are progressing or regressing in their programs.
     Make sure you have ________________ goals as to why you desire a
        doctorate degree.
     Make sure you have _______________ support.
     Make sure before you start the program that there are no major
        ____________ going on in your life.
     Be realistic: know your _____________ and ____________. Work on
        weak areas and learn to tailor your strengths to the program.

Remember, you are making a commitment for future success. The next four to seven years of Ph.D. work
may be the most challenging assignment that you will ever experience. It may look dim now, but keep
your eyes focused on the light at the end of the long tunnel. THE REWARDS WILL BE WORTH IT IN

If you do the smart things now, you will complete the degree

"Thank you for your interest in my book, Just What the Ph.D. Ordered. I'm sure you will find it to be
informative, practical, instructional, and motivational."

                             Just What the Ph.D. Ordered
This powerful book will give you the steps and information you need to succeed in a doctoral program
at any institution or university in all majors. Just What the Ph.D. Ordered will show you:
                     Why you should earn a Ph.D.
                     What to do before starting a program
                     How to overcome fear about graduate school
                     The important things to do in a program and when to do them
                     How to avoid common mistakes made by Ph.D. students
                     How to start writing your dissertation within the first year
                     And much more!

Here’s what others are saying about the book:
“The author is very grounded in the abstracts and the actualities of how to successfully complete a doctoral program.This
book is a must read for those contemplating the pursuit of a doctorate degree and those in the process of completing a
doctorate degree."
Rex Culp, Ph.D., J.D., Associate Dean, University Central Florida.

“The information in this book is very practical, yet motivational for anyone thinking about earning a doctorate
 Rickeyta Snell, MACN, University of Alabama, Birmingham.

“My fear that I would not be able to accomplish attaining a Ph.D. degree was all for naught. This book has helped me
Beatrice V. Carrington, California State University.

Book Contents:
Chapter 1: A worthwhile journey
Chapter 2: Why pursue a Ph.D. degree
Chapter 3: Myths about the Ph.D. journey
Chapter 4: Things to do before starting
Chapter 5: Your first year in the Ph.D. program
Chapter 6: What to look for in an advisor
Chapter 7: Choosing an advisor
Chapter 8: Your second year in the Ph.D. program
Chapter 9: Ten common mistakes by Ph.D. students
Chapter 10: Dissertation Tips
Chapter 11: Seven virtues of successful graduate students

Order 20 or more copies and receive a 20% discount!

Enter the number of books you would like to order in the Quantity field below.
There is a $1.72 shipping and handling charge for each book ordered.

Quantity Description                 Unit Price      Amount
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                         Shipping and handling   Per book/ $1.72 $

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Please complete the fields below.

E-mail Address
Phone number
Mailing address
City, State
Zip Code

Please remove this form along the side perforation, enclose it in an envelope
with a check or money order for the above amount made payable to
“Samuel E. Jones,” and mail it to the address below.

Mail to: Samuel E. Jones
         P.O. Box 252
         Trussville, AL 35173

Thank you for your purchase!
Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.

First Year in a Ph.D. Program

            I.      Department Handbook
                      a) Obtain this handbook. Become familiar with the contents.
                      b) Make sure the information in the handbook is current and accurate.

            II.     Develop an Annual Calendar
                      a) Note important dates on the calendar.
                      b) Note assignment deadlines.
                      c) Note departmental meetings.

            III.    Apply for Financial Assistance
                      a) Fellowships
                      b) Scholarships (departmental, university wide, outside)

            IV.     Program of Study
                      a) Check your department for this form.
                      b) Complete this form with your major advisor.

            V.      Transfer Credit
                      a) Check with your advisor to see if any credit hours from your.
                         masters degree can be transferred toward your doctorate
                      b) Recheck so that you don’t waste time on unnecessary classes.

            VI.     Apply for Assistantships
                      a) One type of assistantship is Research Assistant (RA). As an RA you
                         will work closely with a faculty member assisting with his/her
                      b) Another type of assistantship is Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA).
                         As a GTA you will teach undergraduate course(s) in your department.

            VII. Professional Journals
                      a) Talk to professors and other graduate students, to find out the major
                         journals in your discipline.
                      b) Journals show you how scholars converse and what published work
                         looks like.
                      c) Selectively read articles (not cover to cover)

            VIII. Choose an Advisor

If you do the smart things now, you will complete the degree


Qualities of a Good Advisor

    1) _________________ and ___________________; someone that you can
        get along with well. You should also be able to talk freely and easily with
        this person.
    2) _______________ enough to bear with you without complaint.
    3) Never feels ________________ by your capabilities.
    4) Someone who can ________________ you to action.
    5) It’s helpful if this person has some familiarity with your area of
    6) Good time management skills and _______________________.
    7) Student Oriented.
    8) Gives you ____________ for your work/research.
    9) ________________ you when you are not around.
    10)Works well with other students, faculty members, and administrator.
    11)Provides honest feedback about your ________________ and
    12)Involves _________ in her/his research.
    13)Helps you ____________________ in a reasonable time.

If you do the smart things now, you will complete the degree

                              How to Choose an Advisor

    Pin-point several.

    Find out when and attend their research groups meetings.

    Read their research work.

    Give her/him a copy of your work and ask for feedback

    Ask the potential advisor(s) if they have a TA or RA position

    Drop by their offices and ask questions (unscheduled).

    Talk to past and present advisees.

    Note communication style, (style should match or be very similar to

If you do the smart things now, you will complete your degree

                                 Characteristics of Two
                                     Types of Advisors

Non-Tenured Professor
       More availability.
       Has more pressure.
       Less experienced.
       Has smaller caseload of advisees, therefore you have fewer advisees to
        compete with for time.
       Works hard to become tenured.
       Travels less.
       Has less money for research.
       Less stable, may seek other opportunities.
       May be more dedicated to your success.
       Knows few faculty members in the department and outside of the

Tenured Professor

     Less time available for advisees.
     More experienced.
     Has larger caseload of advisees; therefore you have more advisees to
      compete with for time.
     Have more resources and monies available.
     More stable at the University
     Knows how the game is played.
     Knows other faculty members in department and outside the department
      to help in forming a workable committee.

The characteristics of the two types of advisors are not all inclusive. Also, I am not
suggesting that one type of advisor is better than the other.

If you do the smart things now, you will complete the degree

              How To Get The Most Out Of The Relationship
                          With Your Advisor

     Meet Regularly; once weekly or once every two weeks.

     Prepare for your meetings!
         1) List topics to discuss.
         2) Identify what you want to get out of the meeting.
         3) Give summary of what you have done since last meeting.
         4) Discuss any important deadlines.
         5) Set date and time for next meeting.

       E-mail your advisor a summary of every meeting. In the e-mail note the
            1) Identify what you understood from the meeting.
            2) Identify what your assignments are.
            3) Date and time agreed upon for next meeting.

     Communicate clearly. You do not have to agree with everything that your
      advisor says. When you disagree, state your concerns clearly. If you feel
      like something is not going well in the relationship between you and
      him/her state your concerns.

     Take the initiative. You are a doctoral student and to be successful you
      must be a person who is responsible and willing to take action on
      important matters. You do not need your advisor’s advice on everything.

     Don’t be afraid to change advisor or seek help if things go badly.

If you do the smart things now, you will complete the degree

Second Year in Ph.D. Program

        I.   Balance your schedule and work your assistantship.

        II. Continue to meet regularly with your advisor.

        III. Get involved in research.

        IV. Keep in mind that you need to be realistic with your strengths
            and weaknesses. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. But
            don’t shrink from the challenge just because it looks hard.
            Tailor your program for success with your strengths and
            weaknesses in mind.

        V. Make sure you have transferred any completed course work
           from your master’s program.

        VI. Do more networking.

        VII. Attend conferences.

        VIII. Maintain high ethical standards.

If you do the smart things now, you will complete the degree

Samuel’s Dissertation Tips
These tips may also apply to Master Theses

Do these five things within the first 18 months:

    1. Typically, upon entering a doctoral program many students will already have an idea
       of or may be close to deciding what their interests are for a dissertation topic. If you
       already know what it is you want to do, then discuss your interests with a trusted
       advisor. However, if you are like me when I entered my program in 1995, you have
       no idea what it is you want to do. If that is the case then do the following:





Note: your topic does not have to be totally original or “perfect.” Fact is, nothing is original or “perfect.” If that
was so, then there would be no basis for research. Remember, it’s OK to choose a dissertation topic early in the
process and to change it later.

    2. During the first semester and ongoing semesters, read at least two theoretical and one
       empirical study (from scholarly journals) related to #1 above per month. Make a filing
       system and arrange the theoretical and empirical studies in a separate file. Also set up
       sub-categories related to specific type of studies.

    3. Review completed dissertations from your university campus library especially from
       your particular college and department. Note the following as you review




    4. After your first year, review dissertation proposal samples from your department.
       Write a mini-Proposal (3 to 5 pages) for your dissertation and share with a trusted

    5. Normally there are 5 chapters in a dissertation. Write chapter 2 of your dissertation
       first. Number of pages will vary. Chapter 2 of my dissertation consisted of 41 pages.
       Do this around the 18th month in the program.

If you do the smart things now, you will complete the degree

            The Seven Virtues of Successful Graduate Students

1) _________________________
        Your behaviors and mind set must be geared towards completing your program. You have to
have a “stick-to-it mind” set. That means delaying some things while you work on the important
things. Discipline includes following instructions, keeping current, and most importantly it means
“NOT GIVING UP” no matter what! Evaluate yourself; are you a person of disciplined behaviors? It
is something that you can learn and improve upon. Make yourself “to do lists” on a regular basis and
follow through.

        This is the ability to stay on track. It includes not be distracted by unimportant things.
Keeping the end goal at the forefront of your mind.

3) __________________________
        Your mental health/strength will be challenged as you work towards completing your
doctorate degree. Mental ability is having the skills to handle stress, problems, and unexpected
challenges. You can train your mind and body to be strong. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly,
reward yourself when you deserve it, and have some fun during the journey.

4) __________________________
        Patience is a virtue that brings about understanding and wisdom. It helps you to think things
out before acting too hastily. An impatient person will make mistakes before a patient person. Learn
to seek help, ask questions, and get information before making crucial decisions.

5) ___________________________
         Motivation refers to the physiological and psychological factors that cause us to act in a
specific way at a particular time. If you are motivated you will show these three characteristics; you
are energized to do something, you direct your energies toward a specific goal, and you have intense
feelings about reaching that goal. It is vital that you stay motivated for the next four to seven years
about finishing your Ph.D. program. Read motivational literature. Write your goals down, hang them
on your wall, and read them everyday.

6) ___________________________
         If you are quiet, introverted, and a loner you may not succeed in graduate school. You need to
interact and seek assistance from other people. This virtue will help you to gain resources, people on
your side, information, and money in the form of assistantships, scholarships and fellowships to
succeed in graduate school.

7) ___________________________
         This ability is vital for your success. I once heard someone say that “unsuccessful people
focused their thinking on survival, average people focus their thinking on maintenance, and successful
people focus their thinking on progress.”

If you do the smart things now, you will complete the degree

Ten Common Mistakes that Ph.D. Students Make In The First 18

    1) Working, playing, or socializing too much and studying too little. Upon your
       acceptance into graduate school, you have made a commitment. It’s important that
       you balance your life and do your work. Schoolwork must be first! Playing and
       socializing should come as a reward for doing an excellent job when you succeed at
       the small steps along the way.

    2) Not using good time management skills. You must be organized and structured with
       your assignments and meeting deadlines if you are serious about earning a doctorate

    3) Not attending departmental and program’s students’ meetings. These meetings are for
       your benefit and to keep you up to date. Go to these meetings to learn the important
       things about what’s going on.

    4) Not meeting with advisor to confirm that you are taking the right courses and in the
       right sequence. Meet your advisor regularly to examine where you are and what you
       should be doing

    5) Taking on too much responsibilities. Be careful, because you may be asked to join
       more than a few committees and to take on other leadership roles. Too much of this
       can hinder your progress.

    6) Not seeking help when needed. Many graduate students do not seek help because
       they do not want to appear to be weak in a highly competitive environment. VERY

    7) Not balancing schoolwork and personal life. It’s important that you have balance in
       your life. Schoolwork is important but it will suffer if you do not allow time for other
       activities. Yes, this includes having some fun.

    8) Waiting till last minute to locate important journal articles, books, and other readings.
       The quality of your work will suffer if you procrastinate and cram to turn in

    9) Not politically astute – the graduate students who get needed resources, money, and
       opportunities know how to 1) locate and meet the right people, 2) know how to
       communicate, and 3) do their homework.

    10) Don’t be an “Air Head.” By now you should know and be able to communicate
        intelligently with any one who asks about your personal and professional goals.

If you do the smart things now, you will complete the degree

                                Workshop Evaluation

Print First Name Only ___________________________________ Age ___________

University Attending ____________________________________________________

What is your major _____________________________________________________

What degree (B.A, M.A, Ph.D.) are you working towards ___________

Why are you attending this workshop

Areas                                                   Poor Fair Good Excellent

1) How well did the information hold your attention
2) Rate the usefulness of the information
3) How well were your questions answered
4) How applicable was the information to you and your
5) Rate the handout material
6) How would you rate the overall workshop

Would you recommend this workshop to other new doctoral students ____ yes ____ no

Do you think this workshop would be useful to bachelors and master’s level students who
may in the future be consider pursuing a doctorate?                 ____ yes ____ no

What did you like most about the Workshop

What did you like least about the Workshop

Other Comments

               In Addition to this workshop you can have Dr. Jones
   to speak at your function (including graduation ceremonies) or gathering on
                            one of the following topics:

         Effectively Mentoring Graduate Students (for Faculty)

                                       Keys to Success

                     Understanding & Treating Depression

                               For more information go to:

All of us have wondered why some people are successful and others are not. An easy answer is that
successful people come from successful backgrounds or they are more motivated. Those are not the
answers. I have studied the thinking of and the behaviors of successful people for more than 20 years,
and I have learned that there are qualities of success that anyone can develop.
Samuel Jones

Contact Information
Phone: 205-856-6045
Or Write: P.O. Box 252
          Trussville, AL 35173


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