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Dissertation Support When Things Go Wrong

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

Although the steps for a thesis are similar, there are many factors that a student faces when undertaking a dissertation. I met students who during their dissertation faced a marriage break up, suffered diseases and who had to leave their house. Although these cases are rare, very few students have an effortless journey in their thesis.

Don't Expect Things To Be Perfect

I was engaged in helping a student who I had never met before and who was reading for an executive MBA. Because of many factors, I went to meet him at his place of work which was a major local bank. Upon meeting the student greeted me in a friendly but cautious manner. From our discussion, I learnt that I wasn’t his first supervisor for his dissertation. The first supervisor was busy and had to stop. This left the student in limbo.

For me, this meant I had to pick up the pieces and earn his trust. As he was an avid worker, all I did was just be there for him when he needed. Although not always the case, at times, I feel that thesis supervision is 90% therapy and 10% technical advice. It is more important that a tutor is there for the student than the quality of their advice.

There Is Always A Way Back From Failure

I got a client online who got 47% when the pass mark was 50%. Understandably so, she was livid. When we first met, I got a barrage of anger even though I had never seen the thesis. I empathised with her and agreed to go through her thesis. The mark her supervisors gave her was spot on. I also noticed that their feedback was heavy in academic jargon that the student was not familiar with. Most students don’t understand academic jargon.

I shared my findings in a way she could understand. This helped her to understand what was going on and what she could do to achieve her goal. I remember her joy when she informed me that she had passed. A thesis can bring a great deal of joy, not because of it, but because of what the process means for the student and their life story.

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