Raymond Robertson

(PhD, Economics, 1997; Dan Hamesmersh and Gordon Hanson, Supervisors)
Professor of Economics
Macalester College

1) FOCUS. Waiting in line for Dr. Dacy right before the first semester of my graduate program I overheard a student telling the professor that he "would go to any lengths, travel any distance, make any sacrifice" to complete his dissertation. Naturally, that sounded quite intimidating at the time, but going through the program helped me realize that the difference between those who finished and those who did not was FOCUS. Life offers an endless stream of distractions, and only those who resisted them completed their dissertation.

2) STOP READING AND START WRITING. One of my dissertation advisors reminded me frequently that there is always another book to read, always another article to copy from the PCL. At some point you need to stop reading and start writing, and that point should be sooner rather than later. Even if what you write is garbage, revising offers more direction than thinking out your entire dissertation before you begin.

3) Allow Evolution. Your dissertation may change as you go, and that is fine. You do not have to end up with exactly the dissertation you expected to write when you started your program.

4) Be Persistent. Working every day, even a little bit, ensures that you are making progress. Make regular appointments with your advisors and keep them. Make sure to NEVER deliver less than you promise to your advisors. Meet your weekly goals.