Am I good enough for this?


Hi guys, I am just about to finish my masters and expecting a merit, achieved a 2:1 at undergraduate, I am seriously considering doing a PhD, I’ve already applied for two and got shortlisted for interviews at both, but both universities said I needed further experience, although I was sad, I did take away from it that least I got shortlisted. Anyway back on the main story, recently got a few assignments back, although the grades were good, the feedback was quite harsh and kinda knocked my confidence so beginning to question whether I am good enough to do a PhD, I think this lack of self-confidence steams from me being dyslexic, but I often dismiss this cause I don’t deem a suitable or a creditable excuse and just conclude that I am not smart enough, especially when I see people in my class doing the work last minuet and getting better grades. I often think that I am able to withstand any personal criticisms, but when it comes to criticisms of my work or my intelligence my thick skin cracks, and I become very insecure about my work. Anyone feels this?


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Were you trying to get funded PhDs - if so you did very well to get an interview. What field are you in? In some fields it is really difficult to get a funded PhD.

If it's any consolation we all go through the "I'm too dim to do this" - for me it was when I was struggling with my proposal but I got there in the end (I consoled myself with the fact that my MSc research proposal was the worst mark I got but I got a distinction in the end). I'm struggling to get started with writing at the moment but know I need to. The support on the forum is really helpful at keeping you going when other things (supervisors, motivation etc conspire against you)


Many people on here successfull have done PhDs without having a first and a masters at distinction - I got a 2.1 in my UG and a passed my masters. I graduate for my PhD next month. I went straight from one to the next without doing anything in between. So it's certainly possible.

However, it does depend on your subject and where you applying to and, sad to say, where you did your other degrees - there is a lot of snobby rivalry from some people. And some places are very, very competitive indeed. I applied to 6 PhD places, got 2 offers, withdrew from one, rejected by one (chose one and didn't pursue the others). Someone once asked me why I had "applied to so few"(!)

It's normal to feel disappointed though - but just have to persevere. It's not an impossible challenge. And it's good to have criticism as well, learn from it, and use it to your advantage.


They were animal sciences so biology background, and yes they were both fully funded


Hey Jonny! Sounds like you will certainly have the grades you need for your BSc and MSc in order to apply for PhDs- people get onto funded PhDs in some subjects with a 2.2 and pass at masters! I think you just need to persevere and also bear in mind that for many advertised PhDs there are internal candidates lined up for them anyway. The fact that you've been shortlisted for both suggests that you're not far off the mark, probably the others just had a bit more experience or a masters project that was a bit closer to the PhD project in terms of subject or skills/techniques required. I would keep applying and if you still struggle then consider getting a research assistant post for a year or two to build on your experience. But I know people doing biol PhDs here with a 2.1 and no masters or a masters but no further experience so I don't think you need to worry too much. With respect to personal criticisms- it is really hard to take! My supervisor is the queen of feedback and although it is always really helpful and informative it did used to hurt my feelings a bit! But I've got over it now- over time I've just got used to it and it does make you improve your work in the long run. I actually had my second year PhD review yesterday- me and my sup have a long-running joke about her ratio of positive Vs negative feedback- and I told her how much I appreciated all the time she put into looking at my work. It's definitely better to have someone pore over it with an unforgiving magnifying glass than have a supervisor who just isn't interested! So it's natural to feel insecure, but it does fade a bit with experience! Good luck with the PhD hunt! Best, KB


Hi Jonny

Knowing not very much about you, I would say yes, you are definitely clever enough to do a PhD. the reasons you have not been accepted after two interviews must be something else, i.e better candidates available.

The reason I think you are good enough to do a PhD is that you have a masters, probably at reasonable grades, generally you have to do more per year in one year of masters compared with at least the first two years of PhD, if you get the right breaks in your first two years of PhD, it can be pretty easy after that, so nothing to worry about as far as being smart enough.

Personally, i don't think you actually NEED to be super clever to do a PhD, however, you do need to be able to dedicate yourself to the work, and develop a very thick skin when dealing with supervisors etc, who are not known for their social/management skills. I would say most of a PhD is about graft, with some craft, so if you are prepared to put in the graft, go for it.

Good luck with your future applications


The posts you've received are top notch. A PhD is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. With a 2.1 at undergrad level and a merit at Masters on top, you more than meet requirements. Like you, I got rejected from a number of PhD applications but just kept on trying, even did another degree in fact, and got accepted in the end. There is a lot of competition and you need to remember that sometimes candidates are already chosen internally for many PhDs. You just have to keep trying. Sometimes it's a question of who you know - that's how I got onto a funded PhD programme. Networking and knowing how to network can really help. I know it sounds really vague, but Ive got a book that you may find really helpful for your situation. PM me if you'd like me to e-mail it you. Good luck :-)


A real Intellectual Person would never leave a destructive feedback. Such a person could be a Bully,Insecure and Selfish person who could be there just for monetarily gains. A real academic likes constructive criticism and understands the fact that learning is a life long process....Ignore Idiots like that and do not let a crawler like that to break your will power....


I have also had several PhD interviews which have all been unsuccessful, it does get extremely depressing at times but you just have to keep persisting. I agree with the others that you definitely do sound good enough to do a PhD-some of them don't actually ask for a masters- which will put you well ahead! what subject are you doing? I am doing some 'outreach' work in order to get myself ahead working in museums etc,
anyway don't give up and hopefully we will both have something to celebrate soon! :-)


Hi! I could have written this post! I suffer from dyslexia too (well, actually I don't suffer, everyone else makes me suffer). I had a really hard time when I was a child, I struggled for years to learn how to read and write. I couldn't learn by heart and I always underperform in exams. My teachers in elementary schools thought I was an idiot or lazy and I had received all forms of abuse and humiliaton. As a result, I don't have any self-confidence.
Until now I have to put so much effort to fill a form, write structured reports, organise and numerous other things most people do easily. I normally work harder than other students to receive a lower mark. Still, I am very proud of myself that I managed to overcome these difficulties. The amount of effort I had put as a child to learn basic stuff is bigger than any effort I ever put later in life for demanding jobs or academic achievements. I fall short in specific areas but I am much better in creativity, complex thoughts, and critical thinking.
I am now enrolled in a founded PhD. I still dread red pens and beg my supervisors to use any other colour for feedback (but no! they enjoy my horrified facial gesture when they return a chapter covered in ink). I don't mind personal critism too, but on harsh feedback, the childhood feelings come back: I feel inadequate, insecure, useless. I feel I am a fraud and they will soon find out. I fight these feelings back, they don't help me improve, they slow my productivity down. So I always think that if I was so useless afterall, my sups wouldn't invest all this time and effort on me. This thought cheers me up and work harder not to let them down.
Everything is going to be fine. Just keep applying and let people who already know you that you are interested in a founded PhD.