The dissertation experience and its associated pressure, headaches and stress
Before arriving at Warwick, I was made aware that dissertation is a yearlong programme and it accounted for 50% of the total score for graduation. I was therefore required to either present a dissertation topic or see a potential supervisor for a topic immediately I arrive on campus. It however took me two weeks to settle on a topic after I arrived on campus on the 1st October, 2012.
Although I was constantly in contact with my dissertation supervisor, he asked for changes to my literature review in May, when he had earlier approved it and that delayed my schedule. What began my woes was my desire to do something relevant to Ghana and developing nations. It took me two months to get responses from processing companies in Ghana and even with the information, which was provided, it was scanty. To be honest, I nearly gave up on the case study on Ghana, especially when my supervisor thought it was too demanding, corporate approval was prolonging and poor response from people, who had given me assurances. The summer after a prolonged winter also brought it pressure as I had to find a new accommodation having reached the end of my contract.
Deadline for dissertation had been set for the 29th of August 2013 and I wanted to complete and submit my dissertation two weeks before this deadline. Reminders from the project manager for my faculty got me scared as I realized the time for submission was close and I might not be able to meet my deadline. I was sweating under my skin and very anxious. I pushed forward my submission deadline from two weeks to five days and then 28th August 2013 (The fiftieth anniversary of the death of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King). I wanted to make my dissertation submission memorable.
My dissertation was finally approved for binding by my supervisor five days to the deadline. This afforded me the opportunity to proof read it many time. It helped me have a relaxed time to do my PowerPoint presentation slides for my defence (viva). I was able to give a copy of my defence PowerPoint presentation to my supervisor to critique for improvement. I had the luxury to make the submission of my dissertation memorable. I submitted on the 50th anniversary of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, my oratory role model.
How I got the dissertation done and on time
- I devoted time
I gave my dissertation full attention after April 2013 having completed 9 modules out the 10.
- I maintained calmness and managed stress
Even-though I was way behind time, I took the dissertation one day at a time. I lived in the moment and worked towards the deadline. I was bent on finishing earlier than the faculty deadline in order to have a full grasp on my dissertation for the viva (defence).
I’ de-stressed’ by walking for an hour and also made sure I took time off to engage in hobbies such as, chatting with TGSS scholars, reading biographies of world leaders, watching lots of movies, listening to new songs, watching documentary and following local and international politics.
- I sought feedback
Apart from my dissertation supervisor, I selected four people to proof read my dissertation and critique it. They came out with different feedbacks, which helped me to simplify my work for any layperson to read and understand.
- I relied on social network
I had very good flatmates who were friendly, well organised, tidy and loving. This gave me little to no headaches and more time to focus on my dissertation. The few dinners with my flatmates were awesome and helped reduce the anxiety and stress. Tracking my progress alongside my new flatmates, who were my faculty mates doing different programmes, also helped. This was because I realized I was not doing badly on the faculty’s dissertation timeline. (It really counts who you compare yourself to :)). I was also refreshed continuously by my Church. I relied on their encouragement and meals, spiritual and physical (eating jollof rice in foreign land is a rare treat). I mostly did my dissertation at my faculty so I met people, who were like my ‘dissertation buddies’, they lessened my dissertation cross to bear as we all encouraged one another especially when a person received a harsh assessment from his/her supervisor. I also got inspired with the excellent work done by others and feedback from my supervisor. Surprisingly, all my dissertation buddies had distinction in the dissertation. Clear example of working alongside with excellent people because they will challenged you.
I strongly believe we all have it coded in our genes as Tullow Scholars to achieve high marks in our dissertation. It’s ours for the taking. Let’s have fun along the way because we will miss this opportunity including the stress-packed dissertation. All the best.
About the authour
Kwamina Ekremet is a TGSS alumni from Ghana. He studied MSc. Process Business Management at the University of Warwick. Kwamina is the Process, Compliance & QHSE HEAD at AI Energy Group and a Contributor at Newaccra.com. He is also engaged in volunteering and mentoring activities at The HuD Group.