Feeling Lost

posted
25-Nov-19, 10:52
edited about 14 seconds later
Avatar for athenian
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi there!

Before expressing my feelings let me give you some background info. So, i am a Phd student in Economics at my (small) home country, who holds a master's degree from one of the most well-known econ departments in Europe.

After my master's, since i did not manage to get admitted to the Phd program of my master's institution, i decided to come back to my home country for the Phd. The problem is that things at my current institution are very disfunctional.

The Phd program is completely disorganized, no coursework, no research seminars, no collaboration between Phd students, and between students and professors, no funding, very little research activity of faculty members etc.

I am in the beggining of my 2nd year (i am 25 years old) and there is little that i have done regarding my Phd. Most of the time in the first year got wasted since i was assigned a supervisor who had little to do with my field of interest and thus he was not able to provide useful guidance, The fact that there is no coursework has made me spend much time learning stuff that i could have learnt in 5 classes. No collaboration and communication with professors result in spending months trying to figure out what is going on in the field, what are the advances, missing questions etc.

Finally, the fact that it is self-funded, along with the very weak placements of past graduates make the daily life overwhelming.

So, before deciding to give it up, i would like to ask you for an advice. I know that i am still young and could possibly attempt to go to another school for a Phd but this experience has made me feel depressed and i don't know if it is still worth it.
posted
25-Nov-19, 17:00
Avatar for conundrum42
posted about 2 weeks ago
I don't know all the details of your circumstances, but I would say that it doesn't seem like a good use of your time to self fund a PhD in a disorganised department with little research activity or decent supervision and a poor track record of placing their graduates. Without funding, you don't have all that much to lose by walking away and, as an economist, I'm sure you're aware of not getting trapped by the sunk cost fallacy! :)

If you're dead set on doing a PhD, I would consider using the time you have now to produce a better application/research plan and apply to universities you feel would offer you better support, especially financially.
posted
25-Nov-19, 20:23
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From athenian:
The Phd program is completely disorganized, no coursework, no research seminars, no collaboration between Phd students, and between students and professors, no funding, very little research activity of faculty members etc.


That sounds exactly like my university in the UK.

Though can I say that it is common for European universities to not have any coursework elements. I would say in the UK the majority of PhD courses have minimal to no coursework but PhDs are instead based around an apprenticeship and project teaching model. Where you work in partnership with your supervisor on a specific (large) project, slowly gaining skills and knowledge under their guidance. I am not saying coursework based PhDs are right or wrong but if you want one you should specifically sign up to a coursework/structured programme/ doctoral school based PhD (or whatever else they call it). I believe you are on the apprenticeship model and you should not blame your university for lack of coursework, as this is the norm.

To be honest, if you are not enjoying it, you should quit. If you said that you had an interesting project that you love or you had an amazing supervisor I would say carry on. However you said nothing positive about your current situation which is not a good sign.
posted
25-Nov-19, 21:25
edited about 8 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
It sounds one of those horrible situations where you feel like you're just wasting away and know that there are better opportunities out there - if only you can get one. When I first read your post I thought you were funded, and I was going to say well stick it out anyway as there is nothing to stop you doing a second PhD somewhere else, or you can get a good postdoc and just put the rubbish PhD experience behind you. But if you are self-funding then really the best idea might be to consider your other options. Maybe there are some ways in which you could build up your application to try and get accepted on a better programme / in a department / lab that meets your expectations. If you have specific places in mind, maybe you could arrange to visit and speak to other students there to get a feel of the place etc and maybe meet some potential supervisors or make contact.
posted
25-Nov-19, 21:30
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From athenian:

The Phd program is completely disorganized, no coursework, no research seminars, no collaboration between Phd students, and between students and professors, no funding, very little research activity of faculty members etc.


In my experience these things (or at least coursework, lots of funding opportunities, and collaborations) are more typical of grad school in the US than doing a PhD in the UK/Europe.

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