Forums Discussions Question for ladies who have/want to go for PhD

  • Question for ladies who have/want to go for PhD

    Posted by poledanceromance on January 3, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    I apologize for this being 100% non-pole related but this seems to be where I come when I feel really stuck in the mud so I’m hoping I can get a nudge. I’m graduating college in May. I’m freaking out. This is the first New Years I’ve ever had in my life where I didn’t know what my life will be by the end of this 365 days-I don’t know if I’ll be in school, where I’ll be living, who I’ll be living with, or what I’ll be studying if I am in school, or working at if I’m not. Applications to school are all due between Jan13 and Jan 15. I haven’t filled out a single one. Some of my top choices are asking for a writing sample about twice the size of the couple pieces I have that I would really want to send in. I started filling out the application for my absolute top choice school, and had a real sinking feeling when I realized how bad I look on paper right now, because last semester completely got away from me. All in the last month of school, I broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years and asked him to move out, then met a new guy, and got sick as hell the very last week of school. So as it stands, I have 3 incompletes on my transcript. One is for my Sr. Thesis so that was expected, but the other 2 are just…me dropping the ball. And I have to retake the GREs before I can get anywhere with any of this.

    I can’t send my dream school three Is. I also don’t know if I have the emotional and mental energy left to go back to school in August and face the kind of merciless beating I know will start from day 1. I’m so tired. And I don’t really know what the french I want to be doing in 5 years. There’s a good chance I could get a totally decent job and easily support myself and squirrel a little away in the next year. My mom told me she took a year off and it was the best thing she ever did. But my dad can make really hurtful comments sometimes and he told me if I took a year off I wouldn’t go back, so now I’m doubting myself.

    How do I know what to do? How did I let myself get so far behind with school? Why am I so terrible at letting emotional bullshit completely derail me academically when it totally didn’t used to? How do I dig myself out of this massive hole? I do want my PhD, there’s no doubt of that, but I don’t know if it’s fair to myself to do it now, when I’m so unsure of myself. I’m sorry to be wordy and off-topic, but I feel so stuck and scared with no one to talk to.

    branquinha replied 14 years, 3 months ago 7 Members · 13 Replies
  • 13 Replies
  • chemgoddess1

    January 3, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Can’t help you out a whole lot on this one but to offer support. I have my BS in Chemistry. A Masters at the time was just not worth it and there was no way I was going for a PhD. If you don’t think that you will have the same interests 5 years from now then pursuing a higher degree seems a waste of money, but on the other hand the job market right now is dismal at best and you may be better off saying in school.

    I will say that the longer you are out the harder it is to go back. To even sit in training classes now puts me to sleep. Plus I have grown so accustomed to a way of life that going back would be a huge financial struggle.

    Some times all you need to do is get it off your chest and the answers will come to you. Whatever your decision I wish you the best of luck.

  • deetron

    January 4, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Hi! I recently handed in my PhD dissertation – although in Ireland, so I think that the system must be completely different.. I don’t understand much of what you’ve written!! However, if it is any comfort to you (or maybe it wont be), I *hated* doing my PhD.. took me 4 years to complete, although I had only planned and had funding for 3. It’s been 3 months since I finally finished and I still cant seem to get over the trauma!! I just had quite of a hard time, ran out of money and sanity.. and I grew to dislike the subject matter I was working on (Digital Signal Processing of Music/Images/Videos – sounds fancy but I *hate* it now!!), the idea of working in that field, or in academia, the departmental politics, and all those involved in it!!

    If I had known then what I know now, I’m not sure that I would have pursued it at all.. I certainly don’t plan to use any of the "skills" I obtained whilst doing it.. anxiety, negative thinking, general unhappiness etc. I don’t want this to sound like a big scare story, but I *wish* I had thought a bit more, long and hard, about whether it was worth it.

    Do you see yourself in academia? Do you enjoy being in that environment.. i.e. hanging around talking shop with all the profs / grad students?? That is a question I should have asked myself at the beginning..

    Whatever you decide, best of luck.. PhD is tough. Well done to you for how far you have come!! Whether you hang on in there, or otherwise.. it doesn’t matter.. do what you think is right for you, and you will be fine!!

    PS: My thesis defence is next Thursday… freaking out!!!!!!

  • chemgoddess1

    January 4, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    PS: My thesis defence is next Thursday… freaking out!!!!!!
    Best of luck to you!

  • poledanceromance

    January 4, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    It’s honestly the academia part of it that I wish I could fast-forward to. The relationship I have with my academic peers and my professors is so awesome. I know I want to teach…maybe not my whole career, but being young and teaching college definitely appeals to me. I think what scares me is what you said, that I’ll start to hate philosophy. It’s not even the subject matter per se that would grow old on me, it’s just exactly what you said with all the frustration and effort…I just DID that for 4 years! And I KNOW the challenges I face with my grad work will make my undergrad seem like a walk in the park, so I just don’t know if it’s 100% wise to rush off to grad school when I’m honestly feeling a little burned out

    The other problem is that I go CRAZY without the mental stimulation so I’m not sure I could handle a year totally out of school either. I had an idea though. There’s a community college a few miles north of where I go to school now with a nice culinary program. I guess there’s always the possibility of taking the year off to do culinary school so it puts a time limit on how long I’ll be away and gives me something to do. So I think if I wind up not going, that’s what I’ll do. My parents encouraged me to still apply for a few schools, saying that even if I’m hedging my bets on a few places, if I get into a dream school, why not go? I just feel like SUCH an ass going to profs for letters that I haven’t turned all my semester’s work into yet. UGH.

    But congrats and good luck on your PhD, deetron, even if you are worse for wear at the end of it. Once you pass the defense (and I’m sure you will) no one can ever take what you’ve just done from you no matter how hard they try; you earned it and you’ll have that milestone forever.

  • amy

    January 4, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    if you are feeling burnt out, wait. if you aren’t passionate and excited about going straight to school, wait. you don’t have to be sure that it will be what you want to do for the rest of your life– but you do need to be sure that you will take it seriously, not let personal issues derail you again, and be sure that you are doing it for yourself, not to prove to anyone else that you can.

    if i may assume– it sounds like part of what is motivating you to apply is fear of your future. and fear is a horrible motivator when it comes to making decisions based on what is actually best for you.

    i waited 3 years to apply to grad school in a completely different field than what i went to undergrad for. part of why i went back was because the lack of mental stimulation and learning was making me absolutely lose my mind. while getting my masters in psychology, i found a job that is super challenging. i learn every day and absolutely love it. so, i put my MA on hold. sometimes life throws you curveballs and you have to really take time and think about what you want to do… it may seem like you are running out of time, but really– you have at LEAST 10 years to get back to school. yes, it’s tough to take time off and go back, but not impossible. and it’s better (in my opinoin) to take time than rush into a decision that could be potentially very frustrating, and costly.

    what about taking a year to re-do the classes taht you did poorly in?

  • deetron

    January 4, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Poledanceromance.. that sounds good.. like you really do see yourself enjoying academia and all that. But, I think it is a totally good idea to take a year to calm down and decide if it’s the best thing to do for you! As you say, you dont have to stop learning. But maybe for now reward yourself with some time to learn something that you’ve always wanted to, but it’s not necessary "career" driven!! If you are feeling a bit emotional / overwhelmed, it sounds like a good idea to get some down time from that constant stress and tension.. it’s probably better for your mental focus in the long run!!

    I think part of my problem with the PhD was rushing into it.. straight out of college, the funding, the topic and the supervisor were already laid out for me.. and I hopped straight in, not even taking a moment to think if the topic *really* interested me. I mean, I did little internships in the same lab and with the same supervisor the previous year, but it was quite different when I really got into the meat of the topic, and had to stay there more than a few months!! I just kinda thought I’d fly through it – just an extension to undergrad.. prolong college life for a little longer, hopefully with the expected paycheck bonus in my first job post-PhD (which has become less of a gimme in these "troubled times")!! As well, alot of this going straight into PhD thing seemed to be happening all around me at the time – it was just the culture of the college, my friends.. and all the "free" grant money sloshing around the Irish economy c. 2005 – it didn’t seem like such a BIG decision then. But it was – and sometimes over the last 4 years it felt like one I hadn’t even made myself!

    Some of the most focused and happy students in the labs were ones who went out to work in the field first, really found out what aspect they were interested in and then came back a year (or even years) later. They had picked the supervisor based on this interest, and negotiated a project that they really felt passionate about – as opposed to just being handed one – like me!! Some students are indeed just constantly passionate about learning .. but then the wrong environment/supervisor/topic, and even the most capable and enthusiastic can find themselves feeling a little short-changed in academia land.

    Taking some time to think and analyze sounds brilliant!! Best of luck to you!!

    PS: chemgoddess1.. thank you!!

  • deetron

    January 4, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    PS: obviously, that is also just my opinion too and as bugs bunny always says.. I could be wrong!

  • Veena

    January 4, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Follow your passion and do what you love!!! If the means needing more education then go for it. But really think…..What is your passion???? What do you REALLY love? Some of the most successful people in the world didn’t have a collage degree, they became a success because they had a passion and found a way to make it work for them. Just something to think about.

  • poledanceromance

    January 9, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I decided to wait another year. If for no other reason than now I can turn 100% of my attention to having an awesome last semester so that when I do go, I’m the best possible candidate I can be. Reading all your responses was the biggest help of all, more so than talking to my parents or anyone else. And your stories stuck with me big time. ESPECIALLY what amy said about fear being a bad reason to plan my future. I appreciate your advice so much in all of this. It’s mad me realize it’s ok to slow down a minute. I love you all!!

  • amy

    January 9, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    it sounds like you have come to a decision that you feel is right for you, right now. and that is freaking GREAT! i know how it feels to feel overwhelmed and lost. i hope you find your way through it all =)

  • deetron

    January 10, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    best of luck!

  • sunnyinphoenix

    January 11, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    I finished my Ph.D. in American Lit in 2008. I am also the director of graduate programs (an administrative position, not a faculty position) at a University.
    It sounds like you have come to a decision already, but I thought I would share something I learned and also see my grad students struggle with. You need to really evaluate your job possibilities and then weigh that against the cost of the program. Student loans do eventually have to be paid LOL. Since the economy went South, jobs in academia are hard to come by. The best way for a college to save money is to load up the tenure/tenure track faculty with GE and highly enrolled classes, cancel the "boutique" classes, and then hire less adjuncts. They create far fewer new positions and as you know tenured faculty just don’t leave. All that has lead to very few job openings. Also even in a good economy some fields are just harder to find a position. There are less of them and then some fields are "shrinking." All that to say, count the cost and realistically evaluate the job possibilities. Asking your professors might be a good way to get information on the field. You might also want to think of how you could pursue that interest while you take a year off. Could you work at a philosophy journal? Could you tutor?
    I hope this doesn’t sound too negative and I don’t mean it that way at all. I wish I would have thought of this before I started my Ph.D.
    Anyway, I’m sure you will make the right decision for you at this time. It’s important to replenish your spirit and to take time when you need to. Just like listening to your body when you have an injury, this is a kind of listening. I wish you the best.

  • branquinha

    January 12, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Hi, I got my PhD about 2 years ago and when I was finishing it I kept telling people not to do one, but 2 years later I have to say I do not regret having done my PhD and studying something I find so interesting. The process is super hard, though, so you really have to want one in order to go for it. Also, being in the school and with the advisor you want and/or someone you admire was very important in my experience. So, my advise is: if you want to study and you are willing to spend your next years immersed in that study, go for it, but don’t just do a PhD because you are not sure about what to do next; also if you go for it, go for the school you want because it will probably help with your motivation, and it is worth waiting for another year to get ready for the right school, if this is what you want.
    Good luck!

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