I recently made the decision to quit a PhD after procrastinating over it for about 6 months, in total I did about a year and a half. I just wanted to share some of my experience and the mistakes I feel I made - perhaps they will help others.
This should be a two way system, you are interviewing your supervisor as much as he is interviewing you. I was so excited about this great opportunity I never really considered it.
Genuinely know WHAT you want to do and WHY you want to do it. Don't just write a proposal because someone else thinks you would be good for the job, or that you are not sure what else to do. It is about the topic and a desire to study it. Write a proposal for yourself and not anyone else.
Ensure you like the university. They can be dry stale and difficult places to spend long periods of time by yourself. I think this is an overlooked factor - were will you be working?
Be prepared for isolation (and to do something about it). I ignored this after being warned, and decided that it can't be that bad. Your mind can become dry, stale and dusty unless you are careful to keep yourself seeking newness. I learnt a lot about myself and that I would rather work with others and don't have the capacity to work on the same project for a long period of time. I am a little more hyper-active than is controllable.
A PhD is truly not for everyone. There is a lot more to a PhD than having the aptitude to achieve it, it is a combination of factors that have to come together. Think carefully. I feel like a weight has been lifted and am escaping to enjoy a mundane job until I know what I want to do. I feel newness and it feels good.
I have more to share if anyone is interested.
I think it is important to weigh up all these options.However, my PhD is in a subject that I am not particularly interested in, I am doing it cos I couldn't think of what else to do and there were no jobs out there. I think its all about how you perceive it. I am trying to think of it as a 3 year project, which I am being paid for, not some huge 'journey' I have to take. The latter mindset seems to put a lot of people in trouble, especially when it comes to submitting anywhere near on time. Despite not being very interested in my topic, I think you can learn to like it, and like the fact you know more than most others about it!
Just thought I would offer an alternative opinion! Although I do agree, introverted tendancies are much better for PhD work - I thrive when I am left along in a room with some writing to do! and I hate working with others urgh!
I agree that everyone is different and I tried a similar mind set and viewed it as a job. I found this very difficult because it was not a job, it was more than a job and unless I was progressing I could have went on taking money and perhaps never finishing. I still wonder wither I could have finished - but through 4 years of not enjoying my job.
Good luck, I am off to the big scary jobless market.
I agonised over quitting mine as well. I was not well informed of the cons when taking it, only pro pro pro by those sponsoring the doctorate. I started a mammoth thread called 'Seriously Thinking About Quitting' not long ago, check it out. Kept in touch with somebody who also quit. Has to have been the best thing I've ever done, I think my job prospects are now better than ever and am applying to big engineering firms come September. Very interested in hearing more of your tale - do share!
Shapingit, since your thread is titled 'advice for those considering a PhD' wouldn't you also want to volunteer insights on the other side of the coin? Otherwise perhaps a more appropriate title for your thread would be 'why not to do a PhD' or 'the potential pitfalls with a phd' or something similar?
Just saying that I found the content of the OP and the title of the thread somewhat delinked...
Very soon universities will think of money making products like Post PhDs and DScs so as to encourage you to spend more. It is all part of the scheme of things to part with money or donate cheap labour. Trust me the effort is not worth it and many unis won't tell you if the ROIs or the ROCEs is worth it.
I do think that being prepared for the reality of a PhD is extremely important for anyone venturing down this road. It isn't studying as in the type of experience during BA and MA, its a totally different venture and one that many are simply not suited for. I have found the isolation very hard to cope with, but then I am getting used to it, and you have to be proactive in handling those kind of problems. I think I too view it as a job, a very poorly paid one (I don't have 'funding', only my fees and a tiny bursary) but it is an apprenticeship for future positions as well as the experience of researching a single topic in depth. Would I start again? Yes, it has already opened doors and taught me a lot, not only academically, but about myself. Is it for everyone - certainly not, but if you can get around the problems and see it for what it is - a stepping stone and a learning process then most can get through.
Hey! Just wanted to add that a PhD isn't necessarily for the 'introverted', and doesn't have to be a lonely venture. I think it really depends on many factors, such as what you are studying and where you are doing it, and how the department is organised. I am part of a team of about 10 in my department (a couple of profs, docs, research assistants and some PhD students) whose research is in the same field, and our offices are next to each other which means we are always back and to, whether we are asking each other for advice or support, or just having a natter. In addition to this we have team meetings and do team activities both inside and outside of work, so my own experience of the PhD is certainly not a lonely one- it is in fact quite a sociable one. Obviously within the team our projects are different, so in one sense you are on your own with your own project, but this doesn't have to be isolating. In addition, I have made a number of friends through teaching, which adds to the list of friendly faces where I work. I can see that the experience is very different for others in the department who are not part of a wider team and whose supervisors don't have other PhD students etc, but I just wanted to highlight that this isn't always the case. I love my PhD and would advise anyone thinking about doing one to make sure the topic is something you really are enthusiastic about- this is what keeps me ticking and makes what I do a pleasure, rather than something to drag myself through in the hope that I will get a better job at the end of it. Best wishes, KB
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