Essay on Challenges to Completion

Published: 2021/11/05
Number of words: 779

Undertaking the doctoral program is an unbelievably daunting task. Within the program’s completion time, students face different challenges. Doctoral programs are challenging since they require a commitment for a given period as the world around us continues to move forward. One may see their peers continue to improve their lifestyle, increase their income, or advance their career, whereas you are “stuck” in this challenging endeavour. In many PhD programs, the attrition rate is high, with approximately a third to half for students who enrol at doctoral programs. While intending to pursue the PhD level, awareness of these challenges to completion may help students overcome barriers to finishing their doctoral program. The aim of this paper is to determine what challenges hinder students from completing their PhD and what strategies they can adopt to mitigate such challenges.

Anticipated Challenges in my Doctoral Program

Pursuing a PhD program at Walden University can prove challenging in my case. I usually struggle with the feeling of isolation when committed to long-term tasks. The PhD program requires effort and personal time, which can make it hard to catch up with friends. Thus, a student ends up getting lonely, filled with many tasks, strict deadlines, and a supervisor to meet (Higginbotham, 2020). This results in fears other people cannot comprehend, lack of motivation, and loneliness. Doctoral programs can lead to stress with such overwhelming projects and looming deadlines. The PhD program requires massive personal and financial investment. I would be afraid to have funding issues in the course of the program since securing another funding source can be stressful. What I fear most in this program is balancing work and life. Since substantial time resources are required for classwork, I also need time for family, friends, and hobbies (Higginbotham, 2020). I expect this to be a challenge since other times I need to keep off classwork, which is almost impossible, to attend to personal matters.

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Other challenges to completion faced by doctoral students include writing anxiety whereas undertaking doctoral-level work (Marshal et al., 2017, p.76). Explicit instructions are generally given for PhD level work like thesis, which can overwhelm students. Due to a lack of exposure to academic writing, students fail to follow the required guidelines in dissertation writing. Moreover, productivity is a major challenge to PhD students since they have to balance careers, family, friends, and other involvements. Overall productivity can also be linked to other factors like challenges selecting a research topic, lack of relevant research skills, perfectionism, and procrastination.

Strategies for Successful Completion

To ensure successful program completion and avoid being considered higher education “invisible problem,” self-motivation is essential. I need to plan well on how to make progress in the program, create time for family, and ensure sufficient time for the doctoral program. Planning also ensures I manage time property to meet strict deadlines and finish long-term projects. Connecting with other PhD students is advisable to avoid loneliness or stress. We can form study groups, career groups, or support groups to ensure easy time in our program (Higginbotham, 2020). According to Marshal et al. 2017, “Beyond the family, cohorts or writing groups can provide support for doctoral students” p.77. Mentors are also recommended to provide emotional and social guidance in addition to academic support, thereby increasing overall productivity. Different factors associated with PhD program success include supervisor support, institution support, family support, and advisor motivation (Marshal et al., 2017, p.77).

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In doctoral programs, the attrition rate has been proven to be high by various studies. Pursuing a PhD program at Walden University is not different, and it is easy to become an “invisible problem.” I anticipate various challenges in the program, including managing work-life balance, motivation issues, and stress. I have little experience in academic writing, which can also be an issue in completing my thesis. However, I intend to do meticulous planning to ensure these challenges are addressed. Through peer and support groups, our life at Walden can be easier, and it would serve well in managing our stress and motivation. Furthermore, family, advisor, and institutional support would play a massive role in completing the doctoral program. 


Higginbotham, D. (2020). 5 challenges faced by PhD students | Retrieved 9 September 2021, from

Marshall, S. M., Klocko, B., & Davidson, J. (2017). Dissertation Completion: Higher Education’s Invisible Problem. Journal of Educational Research and Practice7(1)

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