5 Tips to Prepare for Your Doctoral Journey

By Samuel Sprague
State and Local Public Policy Major, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Male student working on laptop

The doctoral programs at Grand Canyon University provide rewarding experiences and opportunities that will prepare its graduates for leadership in their field. Many learners beginning their program are bound to realize that the demands of their program will require some sacrifices. The first step to making the most of your program is taking the steps to prepare for your doctoral journey.

1. Commit to a Schedule

Maximizing efficiency in your day is the first and most important step to making your doctoral journey successful. Many learners will be balancing academic demands with family, work-life and other commitments. Maintaining a regimented schedule is challenging, but this is necessary for a productive work/life balance.

People tend to hesitate in living by a schedule because they can feel restrictive at first. From the outside, poorly balanced schedules are obvious. Too much focus on free time in your schedule can cause strain and anxiety as you rush to meet deadlines while trying to make the most of your other commitments and free time.

On the other hand, too much focus on hard work in your schedule can cause burnout and stress that you will carry into all areas of your life. Tailor your schedule to your needs and responsibilities, but think carefully about the balance of time that works for you.

The demands of your academic, family and professional life will take priority, but avoid penciling in every event. Find out what activities mean the most to your family, and be present for it. Devote proper time to your studies and work. When everything has its place, you will find time for yourself, friends and family in the blank space.

2. Invest in Yourself

Even the most efficient and prepared individuals need to invest time in their well-being. Living by a balanced schedule lays the groundwork for working hard and balancing your responsibilities, but investing time in your health and well-being will prevent you from buckling under the pressure of unexpected events and demands. If your schedule is unbalanced, revisit and reprioritize. In some cases, canceling plans is better than showing up unfocused or irritable.

3. Read for Relevancy

Reading scholarly material will be a constant demand during your doctoral program. You will interact with other research related to your dissertation, and learning how to research quickly will help you make the most of your time.

When reading a lengthy source, read with a purpose. Review the table of contents to narrow down your reading and save time. Read the material lightly to narrow your reading to relevant paragraphs and then summarize the information after a close reading.

4. Focus on Your Writing

The cornerstone of your program is your dissertation. At Grand Canyon University, work on your dissertation begins early in your coursework as you strive to meet milestones. Success in your doctoral journey hinges on the time you spend writing, revising and rewriting. Be proactive and dedicate time to your dissertation.

You will be working toward milestones, but you should set smaller goals to keep up productivity. While the doctoral programs at GCU cease all activity during breaks in the year, neglecting your research leads to productivity loss.

5. Remember Your Resources

In your program, you will have access to many helpful resources offered by the College of Doctoral Studies (CDS). “The Path to a Successful Doctoral Experience” is a CDS resource to guide you through your doctoral journey. The Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching provides resources designed to help learners build their research skills. Aside from written materials, experienced faculty and staff are dedicated to helping you make the most of your journey.

At Grand Canyon University, the College of Doctoral Studies provides learners with the resources and guidance to thrive in a variety of prestigious programs. Learn more about our programs by visiting our website or clicking on the Request More Information button on this page.

Written by Samuel Sprague, a public policy major at Grand Canyon University.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.