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anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 11:11 AM   #1
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anyone with a phd?

hi,

toying around with the idea of pursuing a ph.d - it would be in a social science - just wondering what others felt about the experience.

Can you do it with kids? i have 2 that would be at home at the time, in prek or elementary school. i'm starting to burn out of my current position and just don't see anything interesting out in the field. So i am considering spending the next 5-6 years exploring some ideas and questions I have in a real deep way - seems challenging and rewarding. I would also love the TA experience - and teaching in general. I definitely am suited for college aged students, not younger.

but would also require moving the family - which is actually part of the appeal - the suburbs are getting to me.

i have at least one year to think about it so if i'm still hot on the idea in about 6 mths, then i'll start studying for the gre.

also, there is really only one school i want to go, there is one other i would apply to that I would consider...is that too risky?

the hit on my retirement plans is something i think would be worth it if i can pursue a better fitting long term career...
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 01:28 PM   #2
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Nope.... but I almost went back to get a law degree...

Got a offer to work in London, so my boredom was over... now back in even a more boring job... but my attitude has changed also with a lot more income

I have thought about teaching though... I can get by with just my MBA... as long as it is a community college or something like that..
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 01:41 PM   #3
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Most people I know with a PhD (including DW) pursue it because they have a passion about a certain subject or career, rather than first deciding to get a PhD, then selecting the topic area. Sounds like you fall into the second group? I'm wondering if you are seeking a new career rather than a new degree (though the degree might lead to the career once you find your focus).

While the pure pursuit of knowledge and research is a very noble and appealing prospect, getting a doctorate can be filled with politics, arbitrary advisors, strange dissertation committees, costs, time sacrifice, and all kinds of unpleasant hoops to jump through. You'll probably want to be crystal clear about your motivation and goals so that these compromises will be worthwhile in the end.

Good luck whatever you decide.



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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 02:07 PM   #4
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Thanks rich -

i know what i want to study - and will be contacting my old prof's to talk about what it is really like.

i know politics all too well! just hoping it will be more motivating to deal with them for personal benefit then just a salary - although perhaps all the more stressful huh?

i have heard of very crazy advisors, committees etc. so that is why i want to get the inside track from people who are currently studying there...

i could pursue a phd or masters track that is more lucrative economically - but alas that does not have any appeal for me at the moment.

everything lately has been about pursuing your passion so i think i'm finally coming to the point where i will be brave enough to give it a go! but again i have the time to explore it all before diving in and making any hasty decisions...
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 02:14 PM   #5
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed
i know what i want to study - and will be contacting my old prof's to talk about what it is really like.
Sound like you've given it a lot more thought and reality-testing than I gleaned from you original post.

Have a blast!
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 02:17 PM   #6
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Yes... forgot about the politics of the degree...

My brother attended a major university for a PHD... seems that the committee required a unanimous vote to get your PHD... (I have heard some will let one or two vote no and you still get it).... well, he pissed of one of the profs on his team and was told that there was no way he would every get a PHD from that college..

SO, he changed majors and did the work in another PHD program... well, that same prof talked one on his other degeee plan to vote NO also...

Bottom line, my brother has two masters and enough hours etc. for two PHDs and has neither...

Way to go crappy Uni...

PS... did you look at the amazing race app?? ... I an not forgetting!!!
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 02:36 PM   #7
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Re: anyone with a phd?

ooh geez - that sounds terrible - your poor brother?

yeah, that's why i'm glad i have one full year to investigate the professors etc that i would want to work with. i also just emailed my old TA who was in the phd program there to see if he can meet up and give me the scoop.

oh - the amazing race seems even more appealing now! then i wouldn' t have to worry as much about the financial ding -

let's revisit that in August - the calls are usually in early january right? i might have to start running to get ready!
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 03:06 PM   #8
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Re: anyone with a phd?

I am glad that you posted this Gumby and would fit into my thought process as well.....Passion is one thing....but having to jump through arbitrary hoops will probably keep me from every going back to school :P
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 03:07 PM   #9
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed
hi,

toying around with the idea of pursuing a ph.d - it would be in a social science - just wondering what others felt about the experience.

Can you do it with kids? i have 2 that would be at home at the time, in prek or elementary school. i'm starting to burn out of my current position and just don't see anything interesting out in the field. So i am considering spending the next 5-6 years exploring some ideas and questions I have in a real deep way - seems challenging and rewarding. I would also love the TA experience - and teaching in general. I definitely am suited for college aged students, not younger.

but would also require moving the family - which is actually part of the appeal - the suburbs are getting to me.

i have at least one year to think about it so if i'm still hot on the idea in about 6 mths, then i'll start studying for the gre.

also, there is really only one school i want to go, there is one other i would apply to that I would consider...is that too risky?

the hit on my retirement plans is something i think would be worth it if i can pursue a better fitting long term career...
Yes, I have earned a Ph.D, and did so right after finishing my M.S and my B.S.E.E., before that. While I worked on these degrees, my daughter was in various stages of elementary, junior high and high school. I only applied to one university (Texas A&M) because we were living about a mile away from that university at the time.

I thoroughly agree with Rich, in that you must have a passion for the subject matter before beginning to pursue a Ph.D. Usually it does not result in an increase in lifetime income, but it does help one to deal with insatiable curiousity.
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 03:59 PM   #10
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Some semi-ordered thoughts:

It is almost impossible to do these 3 things at once
  • Raise a family
  • Get a PhD
  • Work at an outside job
I have known several people who have tried, and they all dropped out of grad school -- smart people, too. You only have so much mental energy, and these 3 things each take about 60% effort; 3*60=180%, which means that you will melt down after a while.

Since a PhD usually takes 5-6 years, after a while it starts to seem like forever. Almost everyone goes through some sort of emotional crisis somewhere in there. How it plays out depends on your situation, your personality, and your family.

At the beginning, grad school seems like a souped up version of undergrad -- coursework, just more intense and focused than before. But as time goes on, that aspect evaporates (you finish the courses) and you are left floundering around trying to find a research topic, to figure out how to focus it down to something do-able, and to actually do it (that's the easy part, relatively speaking). This is why you need the passion for the subject to carry you through. If you really want to eat and drink and live this subject, then jump into it. Otherwise, when the third-year crisis hits you, you will fold up.

As far as applying to only one program -- you should talk to the profs there, and find out how competitive entrance is. I only applied to one PhD program, and got in. When you talk (or e-mail) the faculty, you'll probably get polite but moderately impersonal responses. This is because they get this kind of stuff a lot, and unless they have some reason to personalize their attention to your out-of-the-blue request, they'll just give you a quick off-the-cuff answer. After all, most people who importune them so urgently for information never show up again.

You won't make much money as a TA. Finances will be strained, even with a working spouse. And unless your spouse is really on-board with the whole plan, it is likely that the tensions of tight money, and your time spent focusing on school work, will cause big trouble at some point. When you come to the point of finishing up your research and writing your dissertation, you have to focus 100% to get them done -- and that doesn't fit well with spouse and children. They probably won't understand, and will let you know quite bitterly. I've seen that, too.

Mostly negative comments, re-reading the above. However, these are intended as cautions, not STOP signs. If you have some passion for the subject, and have some plan to deal with the issues above, and have a clear idea of what kinds of opportunities your PhD will open up for you, then go ahead and try.
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 04:14 PM   #11
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Thanks robert - very good comments.

I'm going to set up some fact-finding meetings w/ professors and current grad students to see what i'd be in for.

I just recently had a friend graduate law school, many of my friends are lawyers - so i know how crazy it can be to do it with kids and of course phd's take longer.

i'm just not interested in law school and think i might have enough zeal to get through the hard times. Also, since i have worked in the real world for a while, i think i won't have much trouble narrowing down what i want to focus on for the dissertation - i would use the masters and phd coursework to make sure i am on the right track and have the tools to write a coherent dissertation - which i ultimately hope will add value to how people think about certain things...it is almost as if the only thing i can do now is go and figure some of these "problems" so that i can continue to contribute thoughtfully and with less frustration...

i have put the idea out for my SO to consider, luckily his line of work makes it easy to transfer to other dealerships and there are some lucrative ones in the area he could go to. the first hurdle would be getting in!!! i guess i could take that as a sign from the universe if i don't get in huh?

and yeah gumby, the financial hit would be a hard one - but at the same time, making good income now, i am hitting a wall and don't see any opportunities around me that would not produce the same dissatisfaction after about a year or so. the phd would also give me real skills that i could translate/utilize later and also give me a chance to teach! which i would enjoy as well.
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 04:19 PM   #12
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Re: anyone with a phd?

The perfect thread for that line---"No, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night." Anyone
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 04:39 PM   #13
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed

I just recently had a friend graduate law school, many of my friends are lawyers - so i know how crazy it can be to do it with kids and of course phd's take longer.

Ahhh... now two people that are a bit misinformed (at least from what I think).... what do you think a JD is A 'Doctorate' degree... same thing to me...
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 04:52 PM   #14
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud

Ahhh... now two people that are a bit misinformed (at least from what I think).... what do you think a JD is A 'Doctorate' degree... same thing to me...
Taking the law board exam isn't the same as defending your dissertation that took 3 years of research to write..........

Also, how many attorneys do a "post-doc"?
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 04:56 PM   #15
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPatrick
The perfect thread for that line---"No, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night." Anyone
Rodney, is that you?

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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 06:27 PM   #16
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Re: anyone with a phd?

PHD OOOH I THOUGHT YOU MEANT PRETTY HUGE D....
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 06:34 PM   #17
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mathjak107
PHD OOOH I THOUGHT YOU MEANT PRETTY HUGE D....
"Piled Higher and Deeper."

(sigh)
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 06:48 PM   #18
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Re: anyone with a phd?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed
I'm going to set up some fact-finding meetings w/ professors and current grad students to see what i'd be in for.
I doubt they could verbalize what you would really be in for. You might learn a little about the degree requirements. Your dissertation might be 95% of that. Maybe you can establish some connections with a professor that could lead to something. That was the hardest part for me - - finding a professor with support for me, mutual interests, and an interest in guiding my research.

A teaching assistantship is all well and good (been there, done that), but teaching takes time, and you don't have a lot of extra time in a doctoral program. A research assistantship can be absolutely golden (been there, done that too) because you can get paid for doing research that you can write up for your Ph.D. Since you are working "full out" either way, you may find that your productivity is doubled or more with an arrangement like that.
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 06:57 PM   #19
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Re: anyone with a phd?

I have a PhD in social psychology, and like some others, only applied to one school and was fortunate enough to get in.

I second some of the drawbacks mentioned, although it looks like you have some connections at the school you're applying to, and there is no better source of info than people currently there. One thing that came to mind - since you do have the advantage of real-world experience and have some ideas for research topics, be sure that you'll find an advisor that supports that. Nothing is worse than having to do your research on something that's not interesting to you because your advisor won't let you branch out from what he/she is doing.

Another thought is, although it's a big commitment for you and your family if you get in and decide to go for it, you're not signing any contracts. If you get partway through and realize it's not going to get you where you thought it would, you can leave with a Master's and some good experience. Also inquire about how long it really takes people in your program. A few (single, childless) of my peers finished in 4 years, most 5-6, and many (especially those with children) took 7-8 years. So I would definitely take that into account for contingency plans.
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-14-2007, 09:11 PM   #20
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Re: anyone with a phd?

I want to comment on the 5-6 years to get a PhD thing. In the UK, science PhDs take about 3 years. If you try to go longer, you don't get paid. In the US, they should take 4 years. If you are taking longer, then you are a slacker or your advisor is prostituting you.

Full disclosure: I have a PhD. I teach many grad students.
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