Life is almost too busy at the moment. With two PhD students finishing within the next six months, one PhD student taking his mid-term exam in May, and two licentiate students defending in less than a year. All of them are writing and all of them need loads of support and encouragement. Meeting deadlines is tough, and it is especially tough when one has to write, write and write. Sometimes there is a flow and writing goes fast, but sometimes the flow dries up and words are hard to find. Deadlines can be stimulation for some, but can be completely counterproductive for others.
It is a strange feeling for a supervisor and for a student to be in the final year and to rapidly approach the deadlines. Suddenly life becomes very stressful, because there is this real and fixed deadline, the PhD committee members have been decided and the date is set. The nice and fairly calm years are over, and now it is all about getting manuscripts and summaries ready, and preparing for the big day – for the presentation and for all the questions from the opponent and the committee members.
Four or five years of PhD studies seems a very long time. It is usually also a creative, fun, interesting, but not always uncomplicated time for both student/s and supervisor/s. None of them is really prepared for the time to come to an end, because so much more could be done in terms of research, so many more analyses could be performed and so many more angles could be explored!
But inevitable the day of the defense approaches faster and faster, and suddenly it is all over. No more stress, no more deadlines, no more sleepless nights! For some students the days after the defense feels like falling into a huge black hole, because the stress is so suddenly relieved. From one day to the next, the student is no longer a student, but he/she has a PhD degree, has passed one of the many hurdles in academic life and is now expected to continue on his/her own.