Friday, December 4, 2009

filing a thesis

I blogged a while back about how pleased I was with a certain student's thesis. Since that date, she's had a fairly classic experience trying to file the document, which is accomplished (from this semester forward) not only in hard-copy, but also electronically. Below, I recount the chain of frustrating events as she relayed them. As I write this post, my university is faced with trimming its costs (or I should say it is faced with the cost of having too many students for the state to support--because that IS what happens at my very publicly-funded instititution). Student tuition at my university is significantly subsidized, students pay only about 1/3 of the cost of their educations, while the state coughs up the other 2/3s through tax $$ and legislative allocation, neither of which can be counted upon these days. Reduced funding for the university translates into lower admission rates--undergrad and grad--and perhaps the demise of some grad programs, altogether, since undergraduate educations are not going to be sacrificed on behalf of graduate educations. All of this means that we are seeing the radical reduction of our FTES targets and course offerings for next semester and next year. Adjuncts without 3-year entitlements are suffering the most at this point, since there is no $ to pay them and we have a mandate to reduce class offerings proportionate to the reduced number of students the state can admit (and subsidize). I just hope my department is able to ice-over its graduate program (if it comes to that) and then revive it in 3-4 years or so. This is the earliest date I've heard cited for possible economic recovery. It is a very bad scene to say the least. On to the tortured experience of thesis filing:


Dear [committee members]

Just a quick note to let you know I am wrapping up the findings today, working on web template tomorrow. I have the next two days off to make up for some of my extra hours worked the last two weeks. Boy, what a marathon that was...Right now the other chapters are complete, the appendices are complete with the exception of the prototype web site template...I will deliver the whole package to you [committee chair] on Wednesday morning at the beginning of your office hours.
[Her committee chair and I (the first reader) made our suggestions, edits, etc. The student then made those corrections in a timely fashion and was ready to file with plenty of time to spare:]
[11/30 am]

Hi all,

My thesis submittal is ready for filing so I need to bring it to you for your approval/signatures before I turn it in to Graduate Studies. [Thesis Chair and Dept. Chair], it looks like you have office hours today? Autoethnographer, what about you?

[We all sign, she heads to the graduate office. THEN we hear back from her late that night:]



Hi [committee members],

Well, the good news is that Graduate Studies had minimal changes to my manuscript (only six). The less than good news is that two of the changes are to the signature pages. [ ---], I didn't get your title right, I should have just put "Dept. Chair." At this point, I can't remember what the other issues were with the approval page. Rather than argue with them, I just said "thank you for your corrections" and called it a day. Thanks [Autoethnographer] for letting me decompress in your office afterwards...I decided to take a break tonight, get rid of the mega-headache, and deal tomorrow. I have to go to work but I'll be able to make the corrections tomorrow and come by your offices during office hours on Wednesday morning for the final, final signatures. Will that time work for all of you? I really apologize for having to make you go thru the drill one more time. Hopefully, everything will be to their liking on Wednesday.

[We went through all the flagged pages together, not so bad, just frustrating given that online formatting instructions either do not address such issues OR suggest an entirely different format. ]
Hi Autoethnographer,
I can stop by your office around 11:30 this morning with the new signature pages, if that's okay?
[Mine was the final set of signatures, so off she headed off to file the document--again. Then, the next day, this:]
Hey Auto Ethnographer,

Well, I ended up going thru thesis Hades yesterday afternoon with yet another evaluator (3 different ones TOTAL). She had issues with my appendix headings (they were okay with the first evaluator [who examined the manuscript on 11/30]), so I spent yesterday trying to comply with her crap. Finally, I called [husband] to come home and help me so I wouldn't blow a fuse. Turns out I didn't get out of there until 6:30 last night with the waiting lines, uploading the electronic version, etc. I'm officially done with them except this afternoon I need to drop off the binding fee receipt that I forgot to take yesterday afternoon. I stayed home today since I felt like a train ran over me and didn't get any sleep. [Husband] said he felt the same way and it wasn't even his thesis :) Turns out I'm going to Albuquerque to attend a funeral over the weekend so I guess furlough days can be a blessing sometimes, but hadn't anticipated a plane trip today...
And here, I just have to say, too bad this story is not an exception to the rule. This is not a student who is sloppy about her work. Quite the opposite. I offer this post as a cautionary tale to those of you who wonder why we are such sticklers about reference formatting, citations, and other detail. In one form or another, this will be your experience, too. The research, analysis, and writing is only half the battle.

1 comment:

participant-observer said...

Sounds familiar! But did anyone tell her she looks like the crazy neighbor from 2 and half men?