The Pros and Cons for enrolling in a PhD
So here you are, a graduate with a Bachelor or a Master Degree. You came out of the university with some knowledge and skills, and you are eager to apply them, however you are still uncertain about the direction of your life.
Even though you are standing at a crossroad, there are certain things that you know about yourself, that guide you towards an academic life.
You’ve spend some time reading materials and now it seems that you’ve made your choice about enrolling in a PhD program.
No matter why you’ve chosen this path of intellectual exile, here we have the Pros and Cons for enrolling in a PhD that might clarify your future as a PhD candidate:
1. Subject, designed for you
You will delve into uncharted territory. You will push your mind, trying to create something new that will benefit all and possibly make a difference.
There will be an enormous potential for independent thought and research on your own ideas. You will be the one to push the boundaries of human knowledge in your respective field of study.
Here being unique and original is not just a plus, it’s a requirement.
2. Global perspective
Your view of the world will change dramatically. You will start noticing patterns, previously hidden from your sight. You will be able to read between the lines and delve into the essence of our reality. You will be able to interpret it and even construct it.
If that’s a bit too heavy, try to imagine the PhD as a secret door to a room, where you can see different bits and pieces of our life and rearrange them as you see fit.
See More: 10 Lessons of an MIT Education
3. Skills and knowledge
Your analytical skills will sky-rocket. This really depends on the type of PhD you pursue, but it is certain that you will sharpen your critical thinking. You will develop the ability to translate complicated ideas and communicate them clearly.
You will become self driven. You might come up with novel, creative approaches to problems. You will be able to adapt to new intellectual challenges and obtain knowledge in other areas.
4. Interacting with Academia
You will engage in debates and round tables, discussing topics of your area of study.
You will form contacts with bright minds with different cultural backgrounds, all of whom will strive to make a difference.
You will visit different universities and receive invitations for events, which will contribute to your personal and academic development.
In the end, you will be part of an intellectual environment that is both challenging and fulfilling.
5. Free schedule
No one will bother you. You could work whenever, wherever. If you prefer tight schedules, you could implement your typical 9 to 5 routine. If you are a nocturnal person – make the best of it.
You could travel and work while traveling.
You could engage in different social and cultural activities that are not necessarily connected to your studies.
6. Work your Hobby
One of the best aspects of the PhD program is the opportunity to develop your own ideas.
There are not many people or institutions that will pay you to work on a personal project.
This is the best chance to focus on certain idea or concept with which you were struggling with during your studies.
1. Uncertainty of employment
That’s right! A PhD won’t necessarily help you getting a job.
Even further, studies from recent years show that there is an increase in PhD graduates, but less and fewer opportunities for an academic career.
Things aren’t any better on the mainstream job market either. You will notice very quickly how you became detached from the requirements of the international job market.
Employers will perceive you as overqualified and yet under experienced, having spent a lot of years in the university, while others were accumulating their professional experience.
2. Questionable income
Even if you secure some sort of funding like a grant or scholarship, this will probably only cover your most basic expenses, such as tuition fees and accommodation. You will need to start thinking outside of the box and start searching for an alternative income, like freelancing or part-time. This of course needs to be synchronized with your PhD duties.
3. Alienation from your friends and family
Even though you will communicate with all sorts of academia, you will still be deeply involved with a subject that only a few people understand and even fewer are interested in. You will be spending a lot of time writing alone and researching. This could lead to alienation or even marginalization.
Struggling with a narrow field of study for a prolonged period of time could make you lose connection with the outside world.
4. It takes time and hard work with unclear result
You will start to notice how different people from your surroundings are already on their second promotion, while you still “sit in school” thinking about what your future holds.
On the rare occasions when you do get out with friends (outside of the university), the conversation will revolve around children and vacations. In such (these) situations someone will always ask you “So when are you finishing your studies?” ….to which, of course, you won’t have a clear answer.
5. No boss, no working time
Although I’ve spoke about this in the Pros, it is worth mentioning here as well. Having no boss and no working time also means that there will be no one to guide you, no one to develop your agenda and to say what you need to do. After all, you are occupied with a very delicate subject on which nobody has worked before.
You will have to push yourself every step of the way with little feedback. Of course you will have a supervisor, however he will be exactly this – he oversees your progress and maintains the connection with the university.
6. Love life
By now you should’ve realized that science and love rarely walk together. This of course excludes the love for science.
Even if you have someone in your life, it will be very hard for you to maintain the relationship. You will need to be on the same intellectual level. Your partner will need to be patient and also one who can cope with your physical and mental absence.
No matter what you think about the points so far, here is something to serve as a conclusion: Philosophy doctors are the scholars of Wisdom, and to get a PhD you will need to strive towards it and even fall in love with it.
… And of course you have to really, really, REALLY love reading!