I've read with interest 'walminskipeas...' post 'is this all worth it'... It appears that most people who responded on that thread are coming towards the end of their PhD/have been doing it for a good time @ least.
On the other hand, I'm currently doing an MRes, prior to starting a PhD in September at a Russell Group institution. If I'm 100% honest I don't overly enjoy research - it's a means to an end. My main interest is in teaching (I currently teach within the FE sector) and in the pastoral side/administration even side of things as oppose to research... Is this wierd? Most people I speak to seem intent on publications and making their way up the publishing ladder. For me, I'm more interested in the other side of things. I've always wanted to teach since I was young, and over the years the age of students I've wanted to work with has risen all the way up to HE students.
A big reason I'm doing my PhD is to get the lectureship position - if it's there at the end of the day of course. Having a PhD will help getting a lecturers position but do I really need to be focused more on the research side of things? I realise having such an outlook will probably mean a lower paid position at a post-1992, former polytechnic uni but if it's what I enjoy from the job does it matter?
I also worry about my finances... I'll be almost 29 if I finish on time, with only £10k saved - hopefully no debt (other than student loan) by then, but no deposit for house/mortgage/car... Still living with parents now and really getting me down.
Sorry for another rant - just wonder if others feel/have felt this way at times.
My situation is different, but I think I can answer the question.
Do you really want the career path the PhD will open?
Can you cope with the fact it will overrrun?
I was 38 when I started my PhD, Part time, job, wife, 3 naughty kids. I'm 18 months in and get the highs and lows every PhD student does.
I don't need a PhD for my career, but thought there was one in me, so thought I should do it.
"I'll be almost 29 if I finish on time" - you need to get out of this mindset - your life can and should go on during the PhD. I've recently made a transition from the "prison sentence" to "this is something I do now". Probably when I realised that 4 years (Ha Ha) would probably be 7.
Financially I'm not in your situation, as I have the house/mortgage/car/kids/dog, but certainly the opportunities in my Uni for Postgrads to lecture, and undertake RA work are numerous (although I don't know your discipline).
My top tips
Get to know your supervisor(s) - if they go to the pub on a Friday night and you get the invite, go. This is where you really find out how well your doing.
A difficult supervisor may just be trying to get you to defend your work. Get ready for criticism. It will be harsh.
Your supervisor will have seen many PhDs through. They know what they are doing and allow them to steer you a little.
Mental strength is more important than mental ability
"A big reason I'm doing my PhD is to get the lectureship position - if it's there at the end of the day of course. Having a PhD will help getting a lecturers position but do I really need to be focused more on the research side of things? I realise having such an outlook will probably mean a lower paid position at a post-1992, former polytechnic uni but if it's what I enjoy from the job does it matter?"
Why do you say that?
I failed my A levels at 18, did an HND (with no entry quals), then did a part time BEng at a "former polytechnic" and got a first.
I'm now at a Russell group University, and I could get a job there, (express an interest and a good supervisor will help you), but would equally work at a former Poly.
Don't go into it on a downer! Want it and get it!
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There is a national pay scale so the differences between pay for fulltime staff is broadly the same across all institutions. The problem is getting that fulltime job, as unless you are in an area like accountancy where people willing to work in academia are hard to find, there aren't that many available and lots of people chasing them. I wonder though, given you aren't keen on research, whether doing a PhD and trying to get a lectureship would make you happy? Even at teaching intensive places, you are still expected to do research and bring in research income (often through consultancy work) as a lecturer - it's part of the job even if it's less emphasised than at a Russell Group type of university. I suspect as we head into an era of cuts, then expectations to raise external income with rise further too. Given you've got FE experience, wouldn't you perhaps be better not doing the PhD and trying to get into the foundation degree sector where you wouldn't need to do research - it's the age group you want and just teaching / pastoral / admin? Or even looking at the sorts of roles in student support in universities? I just can't imagine getting through a PhD if you didn't get some enjoyment out of the research process, and an academic job would mean that you are expected to continue with it throughout your career. Perhaps alternatives might work better for you and also mean less financial sacrifice.
I think the idea that getting to 30 meant you had house, car, savings and career...... well, it certainly doesn't apply in academia. If it makes you feel any better, phds can easily take twice as long in the USA, so we're really not late bloomers for the field.
If I pass my phd I'll be just off 28, but my intention is to then re-train via a two year masters anyway. At best I won't have a first job in my desired field before I'm 30. It's not where I thought I'd be, but I think as long as you're happy it doesn't matter. What is it about lecturing that you enjoy? Would you be happy teaching basic college courses, or do you really want to be at a university? It's true that most HE posts will require you to earn your keep by both lecturing and researching, so that could be an issue.
Have you spoken to you careers service? I wonder if they might have suggestions for jobs within HE/FE that would really suit your interests. Do you even need to be teaching your specific subject, or would some kind of wider, student support role interest you?
In the current climate (depending on your field), you will research and grant winning evidence to show you are a credible candidate for academic posts. Most of us are judged on this, far more than teaching or admin which is a secondary concern at best to most universities. Every significant candidate you will be up against will have research under their belt and if you abstain you will be severely hampering your future chances to be taken seriously.
Be advised, if you are doing a PhD to get a lecturer position be aware that this is like doing a degree and hoping to get on a competitive graduate training scheme. There are far more of us PhDs/postdocs than there are lecturer posts, and that will intensify with the future cuts in public spending. Most of us dont make it (and I include myself in that despite making all the "right" moves, Oxbridge, doing a post doc, having teaching, grantwriting, supervision and lecturing experience). Ask yourself seriously, will it still be worth it if you end up with the majority that doesnt achieve a full time, permanent lecturers job and leave academia all together.
Oh, and don't look down on ex-polytechnic jobs, they are far from a consolation prize and most of us would be grateful for one of those.
Hiya badhaircut -genuinely wasn't meaning to look down on an 'ex polytechnic'. I would value such an opportunity greatly - it's more the perception of the ex-polytechnics that are given by academics within my institutions (a Russell Group institution).
Incidentally, you've mentioned about 'leaving academia all together'.... If this did happen what are the options for someone who's done a PhD within a Business School, albeit with a small amount of 'real' industry experience - is it glum?
Just had to post on this thread before going to bed. Rebel, it's not all that glum; have a look here: http://www.vitae.ac.uk/policy-practice/1390-205101/More-than-70-of-employers-would-welcome-more-applications-from-doctoral-researchers-a-new-study-finds.html
I quite like the Vitae website.
You've probably already thought about this, but if you want to teach adults, how about further education colleges? Some of these are more 'sixth-form' like, i.e. most of the students would be 16-18, others tend to have more 'mature' adult students, but either way you're not going to be teaching young children (I can quite understand not wanting to do that)! It's very different from compulsory school education as people are there because they want to learn, so you get to do some actual teaching and not just crowd control.
Of course if you want to do the PhD anyway, then go for it, but as others have said don't do it assuming it will be a ticket to a particular job or career, though of course it may well open up new oppurtunities for you. I'd only do it if you actually want to spend 3-4+ years doing research, if that sounds uninteresting or an ordeal to you, it's probably not for you!
When I was an undergrad, I remember there were a few lecturers who didn't have PhDs (and this was a good, Russell Group university), they tended to have a Masters and a postgraduate teaching qualification. Maybe explore that route if the research side of things doesn't particularly interest you?
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