When I was in high school, I thought how cool it would be to be called “Dr Sloan”. When I realised I could never remember all the knowledge needed to be a medical doctor I gave up on that quest. However, when I discovered you can become aof almost ANYTHING, my interest was sparked. It has always been something that I thought would be prestigious and cool to have. But I knew nothing about what doing a PhD would entail. I was clueless.
In fact, only recently have I seriously researched what a PhD entails. Particularly important to me was hearing other student’s experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly. I wanted unbiased information, not just the idealised image of a happy, content and engages PhD student. I have found out that:
- a PhD is a loooooong undertaking – 3+ years, with some people taking up to 10 years to complete,
- There will be times when I will HATE my thesis,
- There will be times when I want to walk away,
- I will procrastinate (not that I needed anyone to tell me this, it’s hardwired in me from being a student for so long), but I shouldn’t feel bad about it,
- It is ok to quit your PhD if it’s just not working,
- I will feel lost when I finally hand my PhD thesis in,
- There is a whole community of PhD students using Twitter to help each other out (check out #PhDchat) and;
- I need to find a balance between study and life (easier said than done, right?).
This information has given me a greater depth of understanding on the journey that is a PhD. But that’s just it. It is a journey. Any journey will have it’s ups and downs, frustrations and elations, but it’s all part of the ride. To a certain extent, I feel like I have already been through a lot of these emotions and experiences throughout my Honours thesis. So am I ready for it again?
My decision so far is…..kind of. I originally undertook my Honours thesis because it is the prerequisite pathway at my university for PhD studies. But I undertook this study because I always wanted that door to be open, not knowing if I would ever go through that door. I just didn’t want to know that one day I COULD do a PhD, if I decided. It is empowering knowing that I have choices.
I have recently decided that YES it is something I would like to do, because I would like a career in academia. I thoroughly enjoy teaching, and I also enjoy the thrill of research. It seems a great way to combine the two. In actual fact this is a very basic, idealised view of an academic position at my university, but at its core, those are the two main focuses of such a job.
Now that I have thought about doing a PhD, researched it and thought about it even more, I have finally decided:
- To have at least 6 months off from full-time study. I feel like I need time to refresh and take some time for me. Full time research can take its toll on you, especially when you don’t take at least one day a week off.
- I will apply for a scholarship to undertake my PhD studies.It would be nice not having to worry about only working on a casual basis.
- I will not pressure myself to start straight away. I have time. There is no rush.
So next semester I will try to pick up some more tutoring work to keep myself busy, while I write my honours thesis up into a journal article. I will also concentrate on teaching and thinking of possible PhD topics. So now, I still have plenty to keep me busy until next year, while I also take some time out for me.
What decision process did you go through before enrolling in your PhD? Are you still deciding? Maybe you decided it’s not for you? Let me know in the comments below, I would be interested to know your experiences.
- Fighting Loneliness as a PhD Student (networkedresearcher.co.uk)
- PhD Journey Part 1 – Why PhD? and Why Marketing? (jjourneys.wordpress.com)
- Beginning of the End of the Beginning (llusm.wordpress.com)