when self-funding is the only way...

posted
29-Oct-15, 11:43
edited about 20 seconds later
Avatar for fallenonion
posted about 5 years ago
Hi. Ok, so here's the thing. Did English degree years ago, 2001, Finished with a good 2.1 - too young, too much pub and footy. Worked abroad; came home, worked in marketing. Hated corporate life so did PGCE then went into FE and now run a big Eng Lit course. Love it, mostly, but feeling unfulfilled. Recently completed a part-time Master's in Multimedia (love designing online resources to teach my students anyway so thought why not get a qualification out of it). Got a distinction and my supervisor recommended doctoral study.

Considered an EdD but it seems that would only really equip me to climb higher in my current role and progress up the chain of management. Which isn't for me. Recently turned down a managerial role at another college as I know I'm just not ruthless enough. Really my hearts with English Lit. A couple of months ago I fired off an email to one of my old lecturers who specialises in an area I'm interested in. Bizarrely she remembered me, and said that it's actually an under-research area, and she would gladly supervise a PhD. So far so good but here's my dilemma.

Funding would be no good even if there were any. Even on a full stipend, I couldn't manage mortgage etc. Only way would be going four days a week at work leaving me with a still reasonable income. I could cover tuition fees by examining. The question is, should I do it? Would not being funded ultimately make it pointless? I'd also be in my early forties on completion? Too old to get a lecturing job? Could I combine FE and HE teaching, even on a casual basis? Should I just do it for the love of it then move on? Any other late starters have a similar tale to tell?

All points of view gratefully received.

Thanks,

Fallen Onion.
posted
29-Oct-15, 11:53
edited about 15 seconds later
by Eds
Avatar for Eds
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From fallenonion:
The question is, should I do it? Would not being funded ultimately make it pointless? I'd also be in my early forties on completion? Too old to get a lecturing job? Could I combine FE and HE teaching, even on a casual basis? Should I just do it for the love of it then move on? Any other late starters have a similar tale to tell?


*Yes, you should 'follow your heart' as the fella says.
*No, why would it?
*So?
*Nonsense.
*It is possible to have two concurrent employers.
*Yes but not then necessarilly.
*Hopefully!
posted
29-Oct-15, 13:48
Avatar for SocialJen
posted about 5 years ago
I'm waiting to hear if I've got into my first choice uni for doctoral study. I'm 53, British, but have worked and lived in central Europe for almost 30 years. I took a first degree (passed but just) in 1983 from a British uni, I got my MA in 2012 from an American institution.

I'm a Social Historian person so will have to go self-funding route - at least at the outset. I have a teenager about to go to uni in the UK, a husband who's lost his job of nearly 2 decades. So I understand all the worries. I realise my situation is rather different but we've decided it's now or never. We can sell our Swiss property to buy a British property and fund both my PhD and teenager's BA. We are going to take the risk.

... if I get into a doctoral programmes ... 31 days and counting since the application went in ...
posted
29-Oct-15, 14:02
by Eds
Avatar for Eds
posted about 5 years ago
If you're self funded they'll bite your hand off.

(As long as your proposal is OK. And even if it isn't they'll suggest something to you that IS!)
posted
29-Oct-15, 14:04
edited about 22 seconds later
Avatar for fallenonion
posted about 5 years ago
Hi guys, that's two really inspiring replies.

Ed - yes 'follow my heart' - I think I should, really, and maybe the objections I have are just in my head - age, prospects, etc when really the fact is there's nothing else I want to do.

And SocialJen - Wow! Best of luck with your application - I'm sure you'll do it!

I think I'm so used to thinking negatively (mostly due to past experiences with my family and a former partner) that I put all these obstacles in my way. So hearing people be positive and seeing that others are willing to take a risk to further their education is a big help, honestly.
posted
29-Oct-15, 14:21
edited about 4 minutes later
Avatar for SocialJen
posted about 5 years ago
Don't let age put you off.

I was 49 when I got my MA - with academic distinction.

I intend to have my PhD before I'm 59 :) I would love an academic career after that, but realise that 60 is pushing it! I do, however, have a million other plans for my future.

Two unis have told me that my age is actually beneficial to my application - that was before I said I'd be self-funded too LOL

Good luck :)
posted
29-Oct-15, 14:39
edited about 29 seconds later
Avatar for fallenonion
posted about 5 years ago
Thanks. Yeah, somehow I'd decided (or been persuaded) that even by my late twenties I'd 'missed the boat', but obviously not!

Good luck to you too :)
posted
29-Oct-15, 20:48
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for cloudofash
posted about 5 years ago
I think some people say that self-funding isnt a wise option but that is for natural sciences. There, after PhD, people will look at who provided your funding (as on other things of course). Wellcome Trust seems to be the holy grail, then BHF etc., then departmental awards etc.
But I dont think everybody looks at it that way anyway.
For humanities I believe it is an entirely different matter. And you are not too old at all!:)
posted
30-Oct-15, 11:42
edited about 13 seconds later
Avatar for HazyJane
posted about 5 years ago
Firstly, you're definitely not too old at all.

Secondly, I'd always caution anyone against doing a *full time* unfunded PhD as it is rarely a good 'investment'. However you have the good sense to want to do it part time so that's not a problem.

Thirdly, I'd also warn that the jobs prospects in many fields of academia are truly dire, so if your only reason for doing one is career enhancement, proceed with caution, particularly if self-funded. But if you want to do it for the stimulation/interest as well then that's a different concern. Having a decade of professional experience under your belt also puts you in a stronger general career position than, say, a new graduate with no job history who is looking to self fund and comes out the other end to find themselves struggling to find work.

It sounds from what you've said like an itch you need to scratch. If that's the case, then go for it. And maybe have a look at this guide to see if there are funds you can apply to which would supplement your income:
posted
30-Oct-15, 12:11
edited about 16 seconds later
by pd1598
Avatar for pd1598
posted about 5 years ago
I'm just wondering, could you not try to get a new job at a University? Not easy I guess but something you could maybe look into? If you're working there they'd put you through your phd.
posted
30-Oct-15, 12:17
edited about 1 second later
by mon1985
Avatar for mon1985
posted about 5 years ago
I am self-funded, nearly done (I hope!) and it opened a lot of doors for me. Because of doing a PhD I got a full time university job, they gave me some time for writing up etc so even though I am self funded, it got me where I wanted to be.
posted
30-Oct-15, 12:48
edited about 19 seconds later
by Eds
Avatar for Eds
posted about 5 years ago
Yep. Nothing wrong with f/t self-funded.
posted
30-Oct-15, 14:19
edited about 2 minutes later
Avatar for HazyJane
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From Eds:
Yep. Nothing wrong with f/t self-funded.

Nothing wrong in terms of academic validity, or personal satisfaction. A lot wrong if you are doing the PhD for career enhancement and aren't in a very well off financial position.
posted
30-Oct-15, 15:10
Avatar for fallenonion
posted about 5 years ago
Hi again everyone. Thanks muchly for all these further responses.

Cloudofash - I think you're right on that, definitely a big distinction between sciences and humanities. So hard when you're reading about phds / academic jobs market etc to know what is relevant to your own particular area / the job market you might enter.

HazyJane - that website looks like it could be a big help in chasing what little bits of funding there might be. Definitely agree that my having an established career in a related area gives me something to fall back on; worst case scenario, in six / seven years I'll be a college teacher with a PhD I guess, but I'll have scratched that itch and done all I can to get where I want to be.

pd1598 - that is something I've considered. At work I've been involved in whole-staff teaching and learning initiatives, mentoring trainees and helping other staff. So a job in teacher training at a university would be a possibility. Problem is, they're pretty hotly contested too, of course, and few and far between. I wouldn't say no, though!

mon1985 - really glad to hear that. great knowing it's worked out for someone.

Gosh, lots of encouraging replies. I think I'm going to take this as a sign that I should press ahead. To be honest I'd expected tales of woe and warnings of dire peril ahead!
posted
30-Oct-15, 15:32
edited about 22 seconds later
by mon1985
Avatar for mon1985
posted about 5 years ago
Oh there is plenty of that on the forum :). It's all part of the PhD process - funded, self-funded, full time part time - it will always be challenging but worth it in the end.

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