Yesterday, I successfully passed my comprehensive exams, which means a few things. First, I'm cleared by my advisor, my department, and the graduate college to start the research proposal phase of my PhD candidacy. Second, I'm not a PhD student anymore. I'm a PhD candidate, and now I have five years to get my dissertation done. So the deadline is official: I must finish by May 4, 2017 or I will never get my PhD from the College of Education at the University of Iowa.
The initial reaction of passing the exam was only a slight relief because it occurred at the end of the semester, and I still had to complete three final papers. I'm writing this now as I have finished two of the three, so the feeling of relief is a little stronger. I believe I should be completely relieved of my PhD student responsibilities by the end of tomorrow, and then I can enjoy complete relief.
I don't want to think about how much time I should give myself off before I engage in writing my research proposal, of which I already have a first draft completed. Another big summer project is to complete my application to the Internal Review Board. I'll give myself at least a week off before I dive into that. So after tomorrow, my next destination is to form my dissertation committee so they can approve of my proposal once my advisor and I believe it is ready. I'm hoping for sometime in September or October.