How To Impress Your Dissertation Committee: Advice For Students

If you are starting to read articles about impressing your dissertation committee then you must be getting close to completing your dissertation. So, after spending months stressing and worrying about every small detail and making sure that it is absolutely perfect, you still have one final hurdle to face. Namely the dreaded encounter with the committee. However, first and foremost I would like to stress that far from being dragons the committee members really do want to see you do well. Still not convinced? Here’s my advice to students on the best way to impress your academic committee:

Be yourself

This is SO important. Committee members are highly skilled when it comes to sniffing out students who are putting on a show or going over the top in their efforts to impress them. Clearly, if your usual self is slopping around in your pajamas then you are going to have to take it up a few notches BUT in general, while yes, you are going to have to behave in a professional and courteous manner, acting naturally is the best thing you could do.

Remember they once stood in front of a dissertation committee

I think that there is a tendency to elevate these people to an almost God-like level. Trust me, that is one of the biggest mistakes that you could possibly make! Yes, they may well be in a position of trust and authority right now. However, that hasn’t always been the case. There was a time, and in some instances it wasn’t all that long ago that they were exactly in your shoes. Remember this, and it will help ground you.

Get a good night’s sleep

Again, this is so important. If you go in there tired and grumpy then it is going to show. If you are tired then you won’t be as alert as usual and in that scenario it is very easy to trip up on a seemingly innocuous question. There will be plenty of time for all-night parties later. For now, do yourself a favor and get a decent sleep.

Don’t drink too much caffeine

At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, drinking too much caffeine in advance is really not a smart idea. So, restrict yourself to one mug of coffee and stay totally clear of the energy drinks. The last thing you need is to go in their all pumped up for the wrong reasons.

Good luck!