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Who's doing the weirdest PhD?

My PhD proposal would be a Critical Discourse Analysis into the dark humour of such shows as Family Guy and Southpark, thus destroying any previous joy anyone ever got out of those shows by analysing it to bits but giving me licence to submit a thesis full of swear words and crude jokes.

Thinking about A-level results day

I got a D and two E's for my A Levels 8-)

I'm always thankful that I decided to go into work instead of to University - 8 years later and the guilt of doing so badly at my A Levels and being so very very bored of work mean that I'm looking at a 2:1 generally, and a first if I get my ass into gear.

Age does wonders for the work ethic! (As well as the fact that A Level grades are disregarded when you're a mature student... *phew*)

ageism, feeling old and dealing with not making a 'famous discovery' yet as a 23 year old phd student

======= Date Modified 17 Jun 2009 15:37:03 =======
I can see where you're coming from, Eueu, but at the same time I agree with what everyone else has said. I had the same experience you did at 23 and I was just working - I felt that it was too late to do anything amazing with my life because I had wasted all those previous years being boring and average. Turns out, I was just bored and stressed - I started my BA at 26 and found an amazing passion for my subject and for academics that I never thought existed, if all things go to plan I'll be 31 when I start my PhD.

This doesn't bother me at all - I don't feel that it's 'too late' and that I can never do anything worthwhile to change the world. Yes, I share your passion to do productive things that show the world that academics is important, but I agree with what's said before; you have to go out there and show people just exactly how it is important. Age really has nothing to do with it - it's passion and drive that will take you where you want to go. Your best years are ALL your years, really, and it takes time to actually learn these things.

As for those people who are famous at a young age - I'd disregard them. Everyone functions at different levels, some are focused at an early age, others (like me) are late starters. The bonus of being a late starter, or even a 'normal' driven person is that you won't crash and burn at 25.  I don't read Heat magazine but from the front covers I see in shops it's quite obvious that being a celebrity - and being a young successful one at that - is not a guarantee of success and generally results in eventual career meltdown and rehab. As for those (few) people who go to University at 16 and can play Mozart at the age of 6..well, yeah, they don't have it so easy either.

I find I tend to get more stubborn and obstinate as I get older, and usually when someone says "But so-and-so was X when he/she was published/won an Oscar/stared in a Blockbuster etc.." I usually reply "I couldn't give a damn how old they were, I'm not them - I'll take my own damn time!"

And as for being surrounded by people who are 30+ - that really doesn't mean 'grown up'. I have friends who are 19 who act more grown up than my 30-yer-old friends. Why don't you just talk to them as human beings - if anyone tries to disregard you because you're younger then they're not worth your time, most people are generally quite happy to take you as you are regardless of age. And you have nothing to apologise for if you find someone knows more than you or something - quite often there may be something they don't know, and really, you are doing a PhD to learn so yeah, of course there is gonna be something you may not know!

Really, you need to look at what you are passionate about in your course, and gain your strength and drive from that - it's quite normal to go through a mid-20's crisis, but you get over it eventually


It's Never To Early To Start...Right???

Thank you very much guys for your good advice!

Rubyw: Yeah, the teaching thing is more a future want. At the moment, I'm happy with 'tutoring' my fellow students! It's a shame it's unpaid at the moment!

Lara: I'm doing a general 'English' degree at the moment, where we do language, literature and creative writing. I enjoy it all (apart from possibly English Renaissance literature!), but I'd really like to specialise in the language/linguistic side of things. You can elect to do more language modules this year (which I have done) and next year.

I'm kinda doing 'everything' at the moment. You can elect to do a research project this year (which is basically an undergrad dissertation!) I'm doing it on the literature side (Sci-Fi alien/human contact to be exact!). For my final dissertation I aim to do a creative writing portfolio, cos I wanna. I've spoken to staff and they say there's no problem getting into the MA, as staff will already know me.

I am aiming to write a paper of sorts over the next summer holiday, something language based, so I at least have something substantial in linguistics to show people. Perhaps even get it published. Or, there's the chance of doing another personal research project next year.

Beave: Yeah, I know what you mean by burnout. I figure though that I was burnt out from my previous 8 years office admin experience, so now I'm making up for it! And generally though, I'm interested in all aspects of linguistics at the moment - I haven't enough knowledge of it to find something that I'd want to specialise in at the moment so it's all good.

But yes, thanks guys for reminding me: Must stay focused on the present! I do have a habit of procrastinating by planning for the future rather than doing stuff that needs to be done now! It's no good me having lots of MA/PhD ideas when I need to get good marks in my 2nd year first!

It's Never To Early To Start...Right???

======= Date Modified 20 29 2009 02:29:02 =======
Hello all! I'm a second year Undergrad (mature student though!) and have been inspired by a tutor of mine to do an MA and a PhD, something I'm warming to day by day.

Obviously, I need to actually do my undergrad course, but at the same time I'm so enthusiastic about this new avenue open to me (previously, I was a lowly admin worker with poor A levels. Hooray for mature students being judged on aspects other than their grades!!)

I'm not quite sure what I'm asking, possibly if anyone's had the same experience? I'm thoroughly enjoying my course, but being incredibly frustrated by the complete apathy of the majority of my fellow course mates. I’ve been browsing around this site for a while and feel like I’m already a postgrad!

I intend to stay at the same Uni,moving isn't an option, you get 10% off your MA fees if you stay at the same Uni,and obviously I find the course content very good. Our Uni apparently also has a good record of seeing their students go from undergrad to post grad.

I'm already being annoying (ok, enthusiastic) to various tutors, I'd really like to teach during my PhD and I'm always reading as much as I can about my topic of interest (at the moment it's linguistics in general.I just want to know all of it at the moment and specialise later).

So basically,who of you spent time in your courses looking and researching towards the future? Did it work out, or would you advise spending all of your time focused on your undergrad/MA? Am I being an eager beaver and should calm down and just relax for a bit before things get really hectic? All of the above?!

How to annoy people

I've never managed to figure out a response that'll make people like that go "Oh, you're right! I'm sorry...". I'm still trying though!

Starting my university life again

Not that I'm a PhD student or anything, but from my perspective you need to rephrase your problem a little, and yes it may be possible but it's dependent on what kind of person you are.

I only decided to go to Uni at 26. There is a big difference between me and those of my classmates who are 19, but there are enough of them nearer my age. I don't go out with them all the time, but I do have the odd evening out with the 19 year olds and it's fun and enjoyable. I also go out with the people nearer my age, and my boyfriend "who's older" and those places can vary from small intimate local music nights to old-man pubs. I know though that I'm thoroughly enjoying this experience as I always felt I missed out on it when I was 18. But then again, I'm very aware that this experiences is very different to the one I would have had at 18.

What I think you may be saying (correct me if I'm wrong) is you'd like more of a social life, rather than the traditional undergrad experience of getting so drunk you throw up over yourself, wake up in someone else's bed, missing lectures because you're hungover, being too lazy to read the set course books etc.. (yeah, look how high I hold other undergrads!)

What I'm trying to say, but being rather long-winded about, is that the problem isn't weather you're too old to 'fit in' with the Undergrads (because they're such a varied bunch that doesn't really make any sense). You can do that. I am a member of a society and have found it incredibly welcoming and enjoyable and good for my social life. But I can only manage one society, any more and I'll be too busy to actually study.

I know my uni has a lot of PhD socials, where they meet up and chat about whatnot. Can you not look into whether your Uni provides the same? Or any such grad societies or groups? I'd very much advise joining one society. Don't assume there won't be other people there of varied ages, or that they'll welcome you and you'll have a good time.

But yeah, your experience wont be that of an 18 year old and there's nothing wrong with that. You won't be able to socialise as much because you'll be about 99% more busy then they will be. But you can at least improve your position to one that pleases you more.

getting a seminar group to talk

======= Date Modified 20 Nov 2008 12:22:37 =======
I just had to reply to this, as a currant undergrad in my second year, this is still causing me annoyance!!

I'm one of those that will talk, no matter what, just to avoid that horrific silence after a tutor asks a question. Perhaps it's because I'm a mature student and couldn't care less if people think I'm an idiot. I get hung-up about this because in some of my classes I'm the 'talking one' so people know they don't have to speak because I probably will. I always look around the class to see if anyone else looks like they're gonna speak first, before I have a go myself.

Generally, I've been lecturing my friends that really, you can get so much out of a seminar (from understanding the topic when you don't, to practically getting a tutor to answer a set essay question for you), and tutors just love it when you start engaging in the seminar.

Lucky (well, for some), we get a lot of seminars where only 4 people will turn up. Less students almost always has a positive impact on class participation and people who never speak will often chirp up as its more intimate.

My only help in this regard is that I'd learn students names and pick on a different person each time, weed out the completely silent (just hope that they're taking it all in) and encourage the talkative that it's ok to have a go at answering a question.

Edit: I'd also second the point about creating an atmosphere where all answers are good answers (even if they're wrong), so students feel comfortable in working through problems and issues. One of my tutors starts off the seminar by asking what people thought of the lecture, if they understood everything, then she'll go into points she found interesting or difficult.