Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Deconstructing The Presentation

Friday morning after I posted about my thesis stress nightmare, I triple-checked that I had loaded the most up-to-date versions of my presentation and script onto my CD-ROM, and headed to the university. I did a couple of quick faxes before the presentation, and before I knew it, nine o'clock had rolled around and I was ready for my grilling. I've had an idea of what a thesis defense would be like when I was a boy - a strange think for a boy to think about, but my dad did his Masters when I was about nine or so, so it was something that was on my mind. I had imagined that you stand in a sparse room with hard tile so that every step or shuffle you take makes loud, obvious echoes; that you stand the entire time, in front of a table of your committee members who sit in a row, hands folded, and begin to throw question after question at you. I also imagined, for some reason, that they would be wearing robes.

The actual presentation was, unsurprisingly, nothing like that. I sat with everyone at an oval table; they all wore sweaters; and everyone was very friendly. The chair started the session by asking me to leave so they could confer on how the presentation would go, so I left and hung out in an office, trying to calmly go over my presentation. I was summoned back, I did my twelve-minute Power Point, and then the questions began. You start with the person furthest from the project and the field of study, and work inwards, and go around a few times asking questions until they're satisfied. I was pretty nervous, and although I tried to play it cool I think it showed a few times when I just didn't understand some of the questions but inadvertently answered them when trying to get to my point. I also felt I was unfairly grilled on some statistics questions, but then again I was fairly grilled on other statistics questions, so I suppose it all evens out. Over an hour of questions passed, and then I was dismissed again so that the committee could go over their questions and slot me into one of the following three categories:

1. Pass.
2. Pass, with revisions.
3. Fail.

Almost nobody gets option one, and very few get option three. So in this case I was VERY content to score in the middle of the curve. I passed, with a slew of revisions to tackle, but I can probably get them done before December ends. So yes, my thesis went well. I didn't have much time to celebrate afterwards, because of the choir concert I had the next day and the dress rehearsal for it that evening, but Sunday night The Peach took me out to unheardof for dinner, which was delicious and full of celebratory times. I would highly recommend it for a special dining occasion: the seafood bisque was AMAZING. So now that my thesis is, essentially, done, I have time to focus on other things. Like The 5th Annual Apocalypse Kow Kristmas Kabaret (this Friday night!). Or gift shopping. Or redecorating the living room. Or completing the office move at the University. Unfortunately, outside the academic bubble I was in for a couple of weeks, life has moved on, and I have to catch up.


Natalie said...

I thought defending a thesis would go the way you had it in your head. One day, when I defend a thesis, I will be much calmer having read this post. Then again, maybe in America they do wear robes.

Flop said...

I'm glad you did well, Doc. Congratulations!
My Sweetie will be taking me to the unheardof when I convocate in June. I know, it's only an undergrad, but it's taken ten freaking YEARS!!!
Also, see you Friday. I'll be carolling.

GuyWhoWorkedWithYouAtChapters said...


The Doc said...

Thanks, everyone.

Nat, I'm glad I could help prepare for the future!

Flop, I hope your sweetie is enjoying his gingerbread. Mmmm, Balrog.

Guy, thanks!