Sunday, December 14, 2008

Moving in with the family—my solution to the funding expiration problem

There comes a time in the life of most graduate students when one’s funding is about to expire, but one’s writing is not yet complete. When faced with this situation we students take a variety of options. Some choose to seek additional funding, some seek employment, and others of us seek options which negate the problems entailed by lack of funding. Each of these has their advantages and their pitfalls. For those of us enrolled in an Australian University the end of funding deadline appears much sooner than we might like in that the official time limit is three years from start to finish of a PhD program (note: Australian PhD students do not enroll in courses—rather it is a research based degree program). Those of us who can demonstrate complications or interruptions to our progress which were outside of our control can often obtain an additional six months of funding, but the university is pretty clear that it doesn’t wish to extend funding beyond that point.

Some of my cohorts choose to obtain employment at that point, with the intention of completing the write-up of their results in their “spare” time in the evenings and on the weekends. Some of them manage this goal, but it seems to extend the process by many more months than they would have liked. I am one of the fortunate few to have another alternative. When my Master’s funding ran out years ago, I moved in with my mother & step father and enjoyed free room and board in exchange for some basic housework and managed to complete my thesis in only one more semester’s worth of time. Now that my PhD scholarship has ended my own mother’s home is no longer an option, as she lives on another continent. However, my husband’s parents are local and have a spare room and have made us welcome in their home.

The process of packing up and moving all of our belongings, some for storage until I complete my degree, find employment in academia, and move to our new location, and some to be kept out and available in our room in their home and the final cleaning of our rental house, has cost me fully 12 days wherein I could have been working on completing my degree. However, it is my hope that by thus avoiding a major time commitment, such as a full time job, I shall be able to complete my writing and submit my thesis (note: in Australia both Master’s and PhD students write a “thesis”) within the next month or two.

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