View Full Version : Considering postponing my master's thesis


Hermus
09-26-16, 03:38 AM
I'm strongly considering dropping my thesis for now and working on other projects, instead of studying. The only problem is that my university has a system that makes your grades expire if you didn't finish in two years. So I made an appointment with my study advisory to see what the possibilities are.

Fuzzy12
09-26-16, 04:55 AM
I'm strongly considering dropping my thesis for now and working on other projects, instead of studying. The only problem is that my university has a system that makes your grades expire if you didn't finish in two years. So I made an appointment with my study advisory to see what the possibilities are.

Do you think though there will be a time in the near future when you can realistically work better on your thesis?

Hermus
09-26-16, 05:57 AM
Do you think though there will be a time in the near future when you can realistically work better on your thesis?

Not sure yet. All I know is that at the moment I'm just muddling on and it isn't really going anywhere. So I think I have to be realistic and pull the plug for now. I've already wasted enough time on failing academically. 32 and still not finished my academic study after thirteen years. It is time to start doing things that work for me.

Fuzzy12
09-26-16, 06:33 AM
Not sure yet. All I know is that at the moment I'm just muddling on and it isn't really going anywhere. So I think I have to be realistic and pull the plug for now. I've already wasted enough time on failing academically. 32 and still not finished my academic study after thirteen years. It is time to start doing things that work for me.

Yes, but you are so close. I know the actual writing up is the most difficult of any course (at least it was for me) but I think if you are risking never finishing by postponing submission now to be honest I wouldn't take that option. Even submitting a mediocre thesis is better than not finishing at all.

How much of your thesis have you completed?

Also, what are your other options (you don't have to answer these questions). Unless you have a good job lined up I doubt they justify not getting your degree.

(Apologies. I know this is totally your choice and I might be too pushy with my opinion).

Hermus
09-26-16, 09:57 AM
Yes, but you are so close. I know the actual writing up is the most difficult of any course (at least it was for me) but I think if you are risking never finishing by postponing submission now to be honest I wouldn't take that option. Even submitting a mediocre thesis is better than not finishing at all.

How much of your thesis have you completed?

Not that much actually. The structure that a thesis should have in my discipline (as I understand it other disciplines do this differently) is:

-Introduction
-Theoretical framework
-Methodology
-Empirical research
-Conclusion

The introduction and methodology are in a far advanced stage and the empirical chapter and conclusion are not going to be problematic. However, I'm stuck at the theoretical framework and I've been struggling with it for months. There are some things that just don't logically fit and I keep writing and rewriting. It is somewhat advancing, but I don't seem to get it right. So I don't know whether that will ever work out.

Also, what are your other options (you don't have to answer these questions). Unless you have a good job lined up I doubt they justify not getting your degree.

(Apologies. I know this is totally your choice and I might be too pushy with my opinion).

My options are limited anyway. To be honest I'm 32, no relevant work experience, in a few months I would finish my thesis. In a competitive labour market which employer is going to hire me in a function that matches my skills anyway, when they have the ability to choose for a 22-25 years old who has finished his study in a reasonable amount of time? If I were an employer I would see being 32 and just being graduated as a very serious red flag.

I don't think you are being too pushy. If there is someone's opinion I value on this matter it's yours, since you have quite a lot of academic experience yourself.

Another thing is that since I have so much on my plate right now, with the alcohol treatment and stuff, it's really hard for me to focus. Together with my current lack of motivation it's highly problematic.

Fuzzy12
09-26-16, 11:48 AM
Not that much actually. The structure that a thesis should have in my discipline (as I understand it other disciplines do this differently) is:

-Introduction
-Theoretical framework
-Methodology
-Empirical research
-Conclusion

The introduction and methodology are in a far advanced stage and the empirical chapter and conclusion are not going to be problematic. However, I'm stuck at the theoretical framework and I've been struggling with it for months. There are some things that just don't logically fit and I keep writing and rewriting. It is somewhat advancing, but I don't seem to get it right. So I don't know whether that will ever work out.

Is the theoretical framework the same as a literature review ie a description of how your research fits into the current body of work? (Funnily enough, that's one chapter I am actually pretty good at writing..:D:cool:)

It sounds like you have done the bulk of the work. It seems like a shame to let it go now. Do parts not logically fit because there is a problem with your methodology or is it just a matter of expressing yourself logically?

I'm not sure what it's like in the Netherlands but in my experience in the UK you are given a bit of leeway when it comes to writing as long as your work is sound. It doesn't need to be perfect.

I did the same. I wrote and rewrote parts of my thesis (and also continued adding to the methodology whenever I found a tangent that could be followed...) in spite of my supervisor insisting that my writing was more than good enough and I better submit quickly. I finally ran out of time and had to apply for an extension. I was lucky and was given a month in which I wrote the bulk of my thesis.

As the author of your work you are naturally the most critical of it as you know the subject and your work best. At some point it really becomes more important to submit your thesis or publish rather than holding back your work for the sake of perfection. Do you have a viva or defense? If you do then that gives you another opportunity to explain your rationale even if it's not clear from your writing.

( Though the opposite happened to a PhD student I was supervising. Their thesis was so badly written that me and their other supervisor debated if we should allow them to submit. They weren't granted an extension though so they had to submit. And lo and behold they passed with only typographical corrections (which in the UK is the best result you can hope for). I still don't understand how that happened... :rolleyes:)

Has your advisor read your thesis? If they have I'd go with whatever they suggest.

If there are problems with your methodology then it's slightly more problematic and you will have to evaluate how much more work you need to do to get that right.


My options are limited anyway. To be honest I'm 32, no relevant work experience, in a few months I would finish my thesis. In a competitive labour market which employer is going to hire me in a function that matches my skills anyway, when they have the ability to choose for a 22-25 years old who has finished his study in a reasonable amount of time? If I were an employer I would see being 32 and just being graduated as a very serious red flag.

From an employer's point of view I doubt a few months more would matter. Even if you could submit tomorrow you wouldn't be 25, right? What does matter are gaps in your CV. I think, you'll find it more difficult explaining why you took so long to finish and finally didn't get a degree rather than just why you took slightly longer. And this holds good for any job (any reasonably skilled job, at least) that you apply for. Even if the job isn't exactly in your field you will still have to explain gaps in your CV or why you haven't finished your degree or aren't planning to.

I'm not sure what you'd like to do next and I don't have much experience outside academia or outside the UK but 32 is honestly not that old. Many people finish their PhD (or Masters) in their 30ies (I did). And in academia nobody really holds that against you. Also, I don't know what it's like in the Netherlands, but in countries like Germany, where kids start school late, school takes 13 years and university courses are rather long, many people are naturally close to 30 when they finish their education and finally start their career.

Another thing is that since I have so much on my plate right now, with the alcohol treatment and stuff, it's really hard for me to focus. Together with my current lack of motivation it's highly problematic.

Yes, that makes sense. Again though, the question is if you can see yourself actually finishing your thesis if you postpone it a bit. I.e do you KNOW that you will be in a better place in the near future to finish your thesis. If not, unfortunately, I don't see an upside of you trying to postpone it. If you are anything like me even if you do postpone it you will lack motivation right till a month or so before your extended deadline and find yourself in exactly the same position.

Also, not finishing it is not a good option even if you don't see yourself working in the same field. A second degree does help (especially if you don't have work experience to make up for the lack of a degree) even if it's in a different field.

I know you are going through a tough time trying to get off alcohol but maybe having something to focus on, something that you MUST focus on, will take your mind off a bit?

Anyway, your advisor will probably be able to give you good advice. Maybe they can even help you with somehow finishing or advise you on the theoretical framework chapter. For our PhD student we did help her a LOT with writing and even with her work. Some supervisors need to be asked but most are happy to help I guess. (I'm not sure though if an advisor is the same as a supervisor. I have supervised MSc students as well though for their MSc project and again I was always happy to read their dissertation and give them feedback if they wanted me to).

Hermus
09-26-16, 11:51 AM
Thanks for your long reply, Fuzz. I really appreciate it and will come back to it at a later moment when I have more time. :)

Bluechoo
09-26-16, 07:44 PM
Follow your heart! But be aware of how many more jobs are available to someone with a master's vs. a bachelor's.

Toss4n
09-27-16, 05:36 AM
I'm in the process of writing my master's thesis myself, and based on what you've said thus far it just seems like you are putting the bar for yourself way too high; nobody cares what grade you got - they only care that you did get it done.

So just remember this: it doesn't need to be perfect, you just need to finish it. Life is so much simpler when you realize that striving for perfection is only going to hold you back. Just do the best you can, learn from your mistakes, and move on.

Hermus
09-27-16, 07:45 AM
Today I have been at the addiction treatment. If I can get the money I will go to rehave in South Africa in the middle of October. Looks like I have to request permission to finish my thesis at a later date. Still, the advise I got is very useful. Thanks for that!