======= Date Modified 21 May 2011 16:40:45 =======
* TITLE should be - Is A PhD Really Worthwhile
After spending two years at college and six years at uni I have managed to achieve countless number of qualifications such as a honour's degree, master's degree, PGCE in further education and I am finding it incredibly hard to find suitable work with these. I always believed I wanted to do a PhD but now I am finding it impossible to find funding and thinking about saving up tuition fees and doing it part time over six years.
But the more I think about the more I think it is just not worth the financial commitment, time and effort. I could end up spending at least eight years of saving and studying (losing earnings at the same time) and end up where I am now overqualified for many jobs and not being able to secure a job I am qualified for. I know there are benefits such as learning more about a subject you love but what is the point of having all this brilliant knowledge if you can never put it to use?
It seems that there are many people on this forum that have chosen to do a PhD and it has turned out to be the worst decision they have made.
Is it really worth doing a PhD?
I voted 'maybe'. Just my opinion, but I think you'll never really know until you finish (should you decide to do one). If you get what you want from it then 'yes' but if not 'no'.
Also, it really depends on the reasons for doing a PhD. If someone does one purely for passion (and doesn't plan beyond that) and enjoys it for that reason, then it's worth it. If, for example, someone does it for career purposes and for whatever can't get the job they want after completion, then in my opinion, it's not worth it.
Hey! I think that's a very difficult question, as most of us won't know until we finish whether the PhD had been worth it financially and in terms of a successful career. It's a pretty negative time all round at the moment in terms of finding work, so naturally there are some posts on here about how difficult things are at the moment. Personally, I have enjoyed my PhD immensely, and have learnt so much (not just in terms of academic stuff) that I will never regret doing it, even though I will be gutted and extremely frustrated if I can't find a suitable job in research afterwards. Of course things vary across different subjects, and also depend not just on the achievement of the PhD, but what else happens in those 3-4 years, in terms of publications, conference presentations, teaching experience, who your sups are and whether there happens to be funding around at your university (or another) at the right time for them to keep you on afterwards. So really all that can be said at the moment is that it's a gamble. If your heart's desire is to be a researcher then it might be the only way forward, but if you're just doing it widen your options generally then it might not be the best plan! Tough one. Best, KB
Personally, yes. I was stuck in a rut at work and found out that my employers would pay for me to do a PhD so grabbed the chance. I now have the chance to study a subject I love and get paid for it! This was my primary motivation - I don't know if I will get a job in the future which uses my skills. Actually, given my family situation and limited ability to move for work, it is unlikely but I feel very lucky to be doing what I want to at the moment!
Although I am working FT, although after my PhD I will have to stay at my current post for at least 10 years before moving on, although the extra money I will get for my PhD is the amount of 30 euros per month...I think it is the best thing for me!
I love my subject and I have learned a loth these three years. I have met wonderful people, been in conferences etc
After finishing I will have much more qualifications than are needed for my job, but my job will not change! I am not sure I want it to change.....
Finishing a PhD gives you a very good feeling (being proud, self-confidence, ...), but I finished my PhD very recently and have no idea where I'm gonna be within a few months time, so not sure whether the PhD has increased my chances for getting a better job or a better life.
Nevertheless, the personal joy is so high, that I did not regret for a single second!
I'm going to start one in a few months and have gone from the 'power and the passion' to the 'ho hum' and back again with this question-if you get my drift. Gone full circle from having aspired to start one for years to realising that it is going to be a 's**tload of work basically and will take me a minimum of six to seven years part-time, so I really should want to do it. Gone from wanting to be immersed in every aspect of it-all the time to the 'hmmm' guess I better really start going through my literature I guess...(from the Masters). Gone from wanting to tell everyone I was going to do one-how exciting- to wondering whether I really need to mention it at all??? Possibly in some situations-yes.
Basically, it is really up to you. For some careers, yes it is absolutely mandatory for progression to have one...for my career and life stage...no it isn't. But I want to do one and it will give me more opportunities plus will enable me to explore a social project-so I will but I sure as heck will ensure that my life has balance most of the time. Sure every now and then, things will get a bit stressful and I'll drown in the sheer awfulness of it at times, but in general, I think I'm going to be fairly rational in my approach and ensure I don't use it as an excuse to avoid other aspects of life that need attending to (bit of a habit of mine at times) or to occasionally have fun, socialise and just be with other people at times.
And hoping at the end of it that I feel as happy as some of the posters on this thread about having done it. So for me it is a maybe...really depends on what you want and why you want it. It doesn't determine your intelligence-even though you need to be smart to get to base level and begin one-probably more tests your perseverence and motivation than any thing else. Hope things become clearer for you as you think about it all and have a short break from the previous study.:-)
That's a hard question as it depends on what you want out of it! It's important you do it for the right reasons:
1) Do it because you are passionate about the subject and want to further your knowledge - this will be worthwhile if you do it as you'll have achieved what you want to do.
2) For an academic job most expect a PhD as the minimum starting level so if you do one and then get a job it'll have been worthwhile.
If you are unsure whether you want to do one or think it'll further your chances I would consider your options carefully. It's a lot of time and money especially if you're paying for it yourself to invest for an uncertain return. Outside academia it's not necessary and maybe not bring you the expected return you are looking for especially in financial terms! It's a good achievement to have as it shows you have great willpower and motivation which you will need by the bucket load to get through but there are easier ways of showing this as it's also a rollercoaster ride and a very emotional journey to take. I totally agree with Pjlu's comment on this! It does require total dedication as it takes over your life so if you're uncertain going into doing one it'll will make it an even harder journey. A lot of people are very insecure when doing their PhDs as it's a big challenge and more like an endurance race so the old cliche applies: the highs are very high but the lows are very low! You need to focus on the end goal to survive!
Good luck with the decision. It's not one to be taken lightly! I would like to think it has been worthwhile especially if I end up with a job in academia though that is by no means certain especially in the current situation! ;-)
Without knowing who is replying, I am just wondering how many respondants have completed their PhDs and have had the time to look back and see how things have worked out afterwards, and how many are still in the process of doing their PhD?
I reckon if you are still doing your PhD I would hope you would click on YES or MAYBE otherwise you wouldn't have the motivation to continue writing. However, once you are finished I think your perspective may change depending on your individual experience.
Again, I completely agree with people who say if you are doing it for the sake of the project and what you learn from it then it is worth it. If its in aid of coming out the other side with a guaranteed secure well paid career pathway, then definitely not.
There does seem to be a lot of negativity about the value of doing a PhD on these boards at the moment - understandable, given the difficulties people are facing finding work or meeting deadlines. But I think it is important to note that the view on these boards does tend to be more negative than in reality, simply because people tend to post when they're facing difficulties rather than when things are going well (and that's fine, it's at least part of the purpose of these boards!)
I'm in the second year of my PhD, and I love it, and am very glad to be doing it. Whether it will turn out to have been worthwhile I really don't know, that all depends on whether I get a job in academia at the end of it. If I don't, it still won't have been a complete waste because I'm really enjoying this focused time to study something that interests me, and I can feel that it's changing the way I look at things and think about things, and my self-confidence is increasing. But I'm doing this full-time, just like a job, and I have a studentship so get paid to do it. I'm really not sure I'd feel the same way if I was paying for myself, or if I was trying to do a PhD part-time while working. It's such a massive commitment, and I would hate to give up so much more for it than I already am and then to not benefit in terms of future career or income or whatever. So yes, it's worth it, for me, in my circumstances, but there's no guarantees that it will turn out to be a positive for my career, or that it would be worth it for someone else.
I can understand your predicament. If it was a funded PhD I would say go for it but the fact that you have to pay for it out of your own pocket is a huge commitment. Weigh up the pros and cons of this both financially, emotionally and for your future prospects. Its a huge commitment and it will put a lot of stress on your relationships with family-friends (you'll be working!). But at the end of the day if you can deal with all that, keep your motivation and get your PhD it'll be a huge personal achievement which you can be really proud of.
I would say straight away that getting into debt to do a PhD is a bad move especially if you are not guaranteed a high-paying job at the end of it.
A PhD is something you do for your own benefit, as a challenge for yourself. You do one because you want to do one, not necessarily for career enhancement. The benefits of a PhD economically only come in the academic sector. In the real world, if career enhancement is your aim then I'd say bail out after Masters.
So why dod you want to do a PhD?
1) If the answer is for the challenge, the opportunity to do research and to contribute something new, my answer to the below is yes.
2) If it's to enhance employment prospects (outside the academic sector) beyond you current position, a PhD won't help you greatly.
My PhD hasn't helped me careerwise one bit and I actually had to hide it to get back into real world work. I'm not doing a job I'm qualified for, however, the important thing is I have a job.
Despite this, I'm glad I still did it as I wanted to do it for the challenege and the chance to do innovative research, to find something new. It was the best few years of my life and a high I've not matched since. I would do it all over again if I had to repeat that decision.
I wasn't thinking about the consequences as I guess I knew (and had been told) I wouldn't be any further forward, but career enhancement in the real world was not my main priority at that stage. I had a vague idea I wanted to do research afterwards and that was the path I started to take before things went wrong in a second post-doc (again discussed elsewhere - problems with line manager).
It's up to you what you do, but look at your motivations. Given what I've said, I've voted maybe as people here can't make thedecision for you. However, I would not envy anyone doing a PhD part-time whilst doing a full-time job. Funding for a full-time PhD is harder to come by given the current cutbacks.
I suggest wait until the current spending cuts are over and try again, however, heavens knows how long that will take.
======= Date Modified 27 May 2011 17:50:52 =======
Thank you for all the brilliant replies. They have all been very helpful.
After giving this issue a lot of thought over a number of weeks I have decided that it is not worth funding a PhD myself. I have spent so much time studying and being poor that I just cannot live that way anymore. I really wanted to do a PhD. I love my subject and loved doing the Master's degree but this alone is not enough to justify spending thousands of pounds, struggling to achieve the hardest qualification possible for the slight possibility that one day it may get me a good academic career. I believe that I would really enjoy an academic career (perhaps more than any other job) but the effort and risk to get there just doesn't seem to be worth it.
It has been an incredibly hard decision but I think it is time, at least for the next couple of years, to give up on the dream of doing a PhD. I tried my best got a first class honours and averaged 75% on my MSc but it is time to call it a day. I don't think I will ever get funding and that could be for a number of reasons such as the uni I went to, fact that I cannot move because I have got a family and mortgage or there just aren't enough opportunities in the area I want to study. Hopefully I can save enough money so that things can be different for my son and perhaps I will be able to afford for him to do it if he wants to.
I have really enjoyed using and following this forum. I have been following it every day for the past couple of years but not really posted much. But it has been great reading all the posts and finding out what doing a PhD is like.
All the best
I agree with Mackem_Beefy - if it's your dream don't give up on it and keep an eye out for funding. You never know what might turn up - you are better position looking for studentships than you are looking for postdocs or academic jobs as there are very few of those around at the moment and as you up the academic ladder. It may take a few years to find the right project with funding but if that's what you are interested in (putting all other worries and financial considerations aside) then go for it. It's a hard slog waiting it out but worth it if that's what you really want! Though you may wonder why it's worth the wait some days when you are doing it but by time you'll have the determination and motivation to get through it! Alot of doing the process is about testing your determination and stubbornness so if your motivation is there you will succeed!
Good luck (up)
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