Of course I now wish I could redo everything and up all the grades up if I had the chance but it's too late now!
So, I found a research topic I'm incredibly passionate about and it links to the theories I've read during my undergrad and postgrad thesis. I formulated a proposal, contacted a few potential supervisors and they all responded so positively. From inside, I felt so bad because I hate the thought of admitting what my grades were from a few years back. I feel like it's all some sort of trickery!
Actually, one supervisor just said 'send me all your transcripts and I'll respond' and she never responded. What's more awkward, is that a supervisor e-mailed back by saying the absolute opposite and pretty much accepting me into the university and he is in the same department as the other supervisor that didn't respond. Now, I regret e-mailing her in the first place! The supervisor who liked my proposal is from Birmingham university to which their entry requirement is a first or 2:1 with a Masters that is at least a Merit. That is way beyond my means!! Should I give up hope? or give it a go?
Thanks for your time everyone!
Yes I would say it IS possible. I myself was accepted onto a PhD with a 2:2 and a commendation for my Master's, although I also had industry experience so that may have helped. However as you will be aware the whole PhD merry go round is megacompetitive and I think that it comes down to how well you interview on the selection day. In an interview they will be asking questions, not just in your field, but which are designed to demonstrate to them how you think, how you approach a problem, etc.
You have had some very positive - sounding interactions with potential supervisors. I would be encouraged by this and absolutely go for it. Don't waste too much energy worrying about the two supervisors in the same dept. It is not an issue. From experience, the reply from the supervisor who did not reply to you could well be sitting in her 'drafts' folder, unsent, and she will think she has sent it. Academics can be easily distracted and surprisingly dis-organised as they are so busy...this puzzles me as they have had to be organised when doing their own PhDs, then it all goes to pot when they become academics! Best of luck.
I know I am in the minority when I say this but I would not recommend that you take on a PhD with those grades.
In all likelihood you will find someone willing to take you on but consider this. Over two degrees, you have not shown any technical excellence and in fact have demonstrated in your exams that you have consistently only learned about half of what you were taught over presumably a 4 or 5 year period. This is not an encouraging place to start a PhD from. The process is hard enough without having to relearn half your degree. Leaving aside the technical aspects, the essential soft skills of resilience, determination, drive, motivation etc are usually demonstrated during the degree as well. Can you show evidence of those? High grades are very strong indicators of all of them so you will need to look to your extra curriculum activities for that.
If you have neither of these I would urge you not to go down the PhD route. There is a very high chance you either won't make it or you will run out of funding.
Of course, i am not telling you what to do. You are welcome to disregard my advice but if I were in your position personally i would not be considering a PhD.
I work in a faculty with the same entry requirements as Birmingham. We are not allowed to accept a student with your grades without special permission from the dean, who very rarely agrees. This is because the statistics tell us that such students rarely manage to complete a PhD. I think you need to be really honest with yourself about how much the earlier degrees really reflect your abilities - it's hard to wave away two degrees with similar outcomes. If you are convinced otherwise then one way might be to do a second research methods focused Masters and show that you can achieve.
I got onto my PhD with a 2:2 degree and a masters. Everyone is different, and like others say above, not everyone has gone a direct route though education, some have studied p/t, have taken breaks, worked elsewhere and so on.
I went to University straight from school because it was expected of me, I wasn't particularly interested, hence the degree classification. I got a research job in the third sector and during that time, self-funded a p/t masters degree in which I did well, but didn't get a distinction. I worked in research for another few years before applying for my PhD. My supervisors liked that I had practical experience and contacts, as well as my previous qualifications - they saw the experience and motivation as more important.
I was one of the best PhD students in my department, I won awards for progression, and had a great experience. It would have been really harsh if I had not been able to have that experience because of people blindly following protocol or unable to see past my earlier grades. Some of my peers with better Honours classifications dropped out because they couldn't take working independently.
Now that I recruit PhDs, I always look at he balance of qualifications, skills and motivation. I'd rather have a student who had motivation and a real interest in their work over one with perfect grades.
OP: I'd give it a go. They like your proposal so what do you have to lose?
Think that if you truly believe in yourself and your research idea you should go for it. I let myself down in my first degree. Due to mental health problems I was completely erratic, see-sawing from firsts to thirds throughout. I did get a 2.1 but 'transcript shame' and 'advice' from people who supposedly 'cared' or 'knew better' (ie had their own agendas..family, partners) put me off doing a masters for years: "you weren't good enough...need to get a job and forget 'book learning'.. Hardly seems like five minutes since a couple of former colleagues were openly sniggering when I said I wanted to be an academic. Well they don't snigger so loud now that I'm now a lecturer...and nobody even looked at my transcript on the way there. Think there's a big myth that 'only those with firsts and distinctions' need apply when it comes to academia. In my case, professional experience and research ideas were enough to land 'the job they said I'd never get'. And at a Russel group too...despite the motley mix of low ranking red bricks and post-92s on my CV, which was the other thing I'd been told would count against me, and which was also clearly a pile of poop spouted by people who don't know what they're talking about. You've clearly got a good proposal, so must have something. Do it!
Getting someone to take you on isn't really the problem. Funding is. It is extremely unlikely that you can get a funded place with those grades. So the question is, do you really want to do a self-funded PhD, with all the hardships that it entails? The proposed loan starting in the 2018 academic year will help a little, but £25 K over 3 years isn't a lot to live on after tuition fees of around £4.3 K a year.
I was advised by my personal tutor to forget the self-funded route, as my department does not have any money for funded PhD places for the next few years when I was considering that option. Apart from the hardship and debt, self-funded PhD students (unless personally very rich) tend to be considered second class citizen within the graduate school, with little chances of conference trips etc., which would add to the already stressful nature of PhD study.
Good luck with your quest.
I would not recommend a self funded route at all, but I just want to say that in respect to conference funding, this last bit isn't accurate in my experience.
I was a funded student with no provision for conference fees in my funding package, However, I went to 1 major international conference and several smaller national ones during my PhD. I was funded by the alumni association and several scientific societies and didn't spend a penny of my own money in order to go.
Also, no one apart from your supervisors knows how you are funded unless you tell them.[/quote]
I was just quoting the advice given to me by my MA personal tutor, who also happen to the PGR director of the department. He said that there tend to be a two-tier structure between the funded and self-funded PhD students, and knocked the idea of my going down the self-funded route via the £ 25 K, 3-year PhD loan due to start in 2018.
He suggested applying to another department within the same school, and a couple of other unis fairly nearby. Luckily I managed to scarped a distinction, and found a supervisor in another department who is at present bending over backwards in trying to get me an ESRC funded place. Fingers crossed!
This next bit is OT and a whine. What is the rationale for the ridiculous early deadlines for those RC funding applications? Deadline is usually in Jan/early Feb, which means that applications, with a proposal, need to be planned in November, and submitted by December. Not really doable for those us returning to education after a long lay-off. The system forces most of us to skip a year, and whereas that might be good for the youngsters, its a waste of of a year for us oldies who can ill-afford to waste another year.
I'm just saying self funding isn't a barrier to going to conferences. I agree with your PGR director, those postgrad loans for PhDs shouldn't even be on the table.
What deadlines are you talking about? There's lots of options for applying for PhDs without applying to RCs and deadlines vary throughout the year eg on findaphd.com.
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