What was your best PhD year?


This question is probably more directed to those PhDs who are in their third or final year. Just wondering which year you found to be the best in terms of interest or the year you found to be least difficult (if there is such a time)! I see many replies in the forum saying that the hard work really starts in the second and third year. I have though had conversations with people who say the first year is the worst. Any thoughts on this one?


I think it's different for everyone - everyone told me the worst year was your second year, but I found my worst year to be the 1st year, and the best to be the 2nd year... the 1st year was such a steep learning curve and a real struggle, but by the second year I could relax a little and just enjoy the PhD. The final year is the toughest in a different way... just plain old hard graft... and tough knowing you have a deadline to make. I'm two weeks from submission and mentally exhausted! This last year, especially the last 6 months have been incredibly difficult, but the positive is that the end is in sight at this stage (still feels like an eon away even at 2 weeks though!)


Thanks for your reply SeaBird. I am finding this first year difficult mainly because of the uncertainty about what I am doing. I can imagine the 3rd year being difficult because of the writing and as you say deadlines. Best of luck with your submission, it’s great to be nearly there


Thats an interesting question. I think the first year is hard as you are finding your feet and don't really know what is expected of you. For me I had a really hard time towards the end of the first year (lots of crying and wanting to quit!). But then people talk about the second year blues don't they, and I imagine the 3rd year is really hard especially writing up, but at least the end is in sight then! Maybe it's just all hard!


Perhaps a bit atypical, but my best PhD year was the third/final year.

My first year was characterised by insecurity and fear, my second year by insecurity, fear and anger at the establishment. Then, all of a sudden, my third year was a smooth, easy ride straight into submission. This was quite a surprise given the rough ride in the first few years (where I nearly quit a couple of times). The time between submission and defense was horrible, though.