PhD Update

soil3Last night I was ask by a friend what I was going to do with my free time now that classes were over and I have nothing on the schedule and no manure on the ground.  Oddly she is not the only one to ask this wonderful question which turns my insides out and causes my back to seize up in stress.  


For those who care here is what is next for Jason and the PhD process. 

  • I have successfully completed all but one graded class in my PhD coursework including

Soil Chemistry, Soil Fertility, Soil Physics, Pedology, Soil Microbiology, Experimental Design (STATS), Environmental Biophysics, and Advanced Soil Fertility Next Fall I will take Soil Microbe Interacts

  • Preliminary exams March 10 and 24
    • On March 10/11/12 I will be given a written exam covering each of the 5 core areas above.  Different Professors in the department will submit questions to be answered .  Depending on the professor the test will be closed or open book but you plan on being locked in a room all by yourself with a calculator.  The questions will cover everything in the 100 to 500 level range. The exams are graded and your committee returns the following verdict
      • Pass – Fail Take more classes you don’t know enough and try again – Fail you do not deserve to graduate from our college leave now.

Assume a Pass

            March 24 will be an oral exam which will cover the same thing as in the written however they will harp on the items I didn’t master in the written.  The exception for this round is that any professor in the department can show up and ask any question they like from anything to do with soils.  The purpose is to see how deep your knowledge goes and to see how easily they can destroy you.  I have been told “don’t say to much – they can smell weakness, don’t say to little – they smell weakness, if you don’t know the answer don’t bluff – they hate BS – they love the smell of blood.”  This process should take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours.  With the same 3 options for a result, however both written and oral must be passed to get out and you only get 2 tries.  


Assuming a Pass

     I am then considered a PhD Candidate worthy of a diploma if I pass my dissertation.  I will then spend the next year or a little more experimenting and writing.  I need to have at least 3 papers submitted for publication for graduation plus the defense.  Because I work with agriculture I only have some much time to get things done because experiments are done in the growing season.  


Needless to say it has only just begun…Merry Christmas

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  1. #1 by StephanieB on December 22, 2008 - 7:46 PM

    Well … for what it’s worth here is my 10 cents. First of all, you can do this. You have been preparing, and you are smart. You CAN do this. Are there others at the same place in the program that you can study with? Can you get study materials from folks ahead of you? It’s a long road, and in some ways the most difficult part is what is ahead not the coursework. But, though difficult, also a bit more like real life. It is a unique experience and don’t hesitate to call on other folks that have been through the process before – sometimes just hearing from someone that has ‘been there’ makes my day so much better. You will make it through prelims, proposal defense, writing, and final defense … be of good courage, you can conquer this mountain. Seize the day.

  2. #2 by streubel on December 23, 2008 - 11:01 AM

    Thanks my friend, I do believe I can pass but there are days…There are a couple who just finished the process and I am starting to get information from them. One thing is for sure, there is no doubt once you get the degree, it might be piled high and deeper but it is earned. You are almost there…couple more months correct? Thanks again

  3. #3 by rosemarie on February 9, 2009 - 3:21 PM

    praying for you as the comps approach. God will give you insights and the regurgitation of info needed. Keep us posted!

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