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Author Topic: Do you regret getting your PhD?  (Read 127166 times)
bruceleroy
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« Reply #45 on: April 11, 2012, 4:03:21 PM »

Quote
Well, a PhD makes you less employable, at least compared to spending that time and effort on internships, etc.
You are right...for the most part. I do not as many job opportunities as a MSE but I am much more attractive to the employers I would like working for (not-for-profit research labs).

While I like my postdoc very much, I would love the security of a full time job. I like teaching but I have all but eliminated big R1s from my list of contenders because I would like to teach or do research, not both.
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bash217
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« Reply #46 on: April 18, 2012, 7:45:01 AM »

The jury is still out. Sometimes we regret that we both got PhDs, with the two-body problem, and all. It would have been on the bucket list, so there is that. But for some reason (maybe because I've been perceived as talented--probably similar for a lot of academics) I was under the impression that it would lead to increased financial security. Not riches beyond one's wildest imagination--just, you know, enough to survive the student loan payments in the years after. I really feel that I was led on about the job market, though of course there is no one else to blame for my choices.

Sometimes I regret choosing the field I did, when I know I could have a PhD in a slightly less saturated field...but then, I wouldn't have studied the awesome stuff that I enjoyed studying. 
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soporific
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« Reply #47 on: May 05, 2012, 10:44:22 AM »

Yes.  I spent seven years getting a Ph.D. in biology and deeply regret it.  It wasn't that the experience was horrible; it just wasn't worth the opportunity cost.  I really like teaching though, and my career has sort of worked out.  But there are so many things I could have accomplished and learned during that time that would have had more meaning and value to me.
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educator1
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« Reply #48 on: May 06, 2012, 1:18:38 PM »

For me getting a PhD was truly a bucket list item. I started working right out of undergraduate school and soon started a Master's and then PhD. program part time. I was on the twelve year plan. When I finally finished I had a pretty good career going. A few years later, changes in leadership meant doom for me as an upper level manager. After an unsuccessful job search, I decided to start a consulting company. There is when the monetary (in addition to the intrinsic) value of the PhD. became obvious.
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quantum
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« Reply #49 on: May 22, 2012, 1:54:26 PM »

I don't yet regret getting the PhD. What I do wish, though, is that there were more job opportunities...
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prof_smartypants
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« Reply #50 on: May 23, 2012, 8:25:44 AM »

How many people who started but didn't finish their PhDs regret that? I bet more than regret finishing.
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farm_boy
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« Reply #51 on: May 24, 2012, 1:52:44 PM »

Good point, smartypants.  I guess I regret not having different regrets.
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yeastie
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« Reply #52 on: May 25, 2012, 8:18:46 AM »

Getting the Phd was all I ever wanted fom a young age. Grad school was one of the best times for me.  No matter what happens in my life, I will always have this accomplishment and it pleases me immensely.
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westcoastgirl
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« Reply #53 on: July 18, 2012, 10:03:21 PM »

I've been coming back and forth to this thread for a few months, not wanting to answer rashly. Some time has elapsed and I've come to a conclusion. 

Grad school, the dissertating process, etc. etc. were not happy times in my life, by any means.

With that said, I don't regret getting my PhD. The defense/graduation were some of the best days of my life.
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mayjohn
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« Reply #54 on: July 22, 2012, 12:44:30 PM »

Getting my PhD was hard work. Yet the adrenaline of research, eating cold pizza and warm Coke for breakfast after sleeping at the lab was an amazing time. Same goes for the wonderful creative experience of getting grants, writing the thesis, defending etc...


As a friend of mine told me after graduating: 'your PhD is one more thing nobody can't take away from you"...

Since then, I do regret my career choices, namely, getting a job and tenure at a no-name SLAC...
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neutralname
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« Reply #55 on: July 22, 2012, 1:40:21 PM »

Most of my peers from undergraduate ended up with jobs that paid a lot more money than mine.  Some of them can already retire, and I think one has.  Many have big houses in expensive neighborhoods.  Sometimes they talk about their vacations where they go to exclusive places in France and have meals cooked by executive chefs.  I sometimes think it would have been nice to have all that.  I've still got many years of a mortgage to pay off.

But would I really be happier if I had taken another route, or would I have achieved more?  That's hard to say.  I suspect that my level of contentment would not be very different whatever I was doing.  Moreover, I didn't go into law, medicine, finance or private business because those areas didn't appeal to me.  Maybe I didn't know much about them and so my choice was not really well informed, but there's a good chance that I was right, and I really wouldn't have liked those careers.  Of course, my current career choice is by no means perfect, especially when dealing with budget cuts and idiot administrators, as well as students who have only a very faint understanding of what I really talking about and who just see me as a problem in their lives.  But I have ways of dealing with all that.  What I like about the job is the flexibility it gives me, the opportunity for travel, the ability to meet some really interesting, smart and good people, to make a genuine difference in some students' lives, and to participate in worthwhile academic discussions.

While some people do apparently have very well planned out lives, and figure out their options early on, I don't think that's very common.  Most people's lives are affected by many random factors, and it isn't a bad strategy to go with what seems like a good option at the time.  Focusing on "what if"s and "if only"s isn't very helpful.  Better to make the best of what you have got.  That doesn't mean you have to stick to the same career path if you don't like what you are doing; sometimes it is better to get out if you are unhappy. 

It is true that some career choices, like some marriages, are just straightforward mistakes that really cause a lot of trouble and are to be deeply regretted.  But that's pretty rare.  It worked out OK for me.
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westcoastgirl
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« Reply #56 on: July 22, 2012, 3:06:13 PM »

Most of my peers from undergraduate ended up with jobs that paid a lot more money than mine.  Some of them can already retire, and I think one has.  Many have big houses in expensive neighborhoods.  Sometimes they talk about their vacations where they go to exclusive places in France and have meals cooked by executive chefs.  I sometimes think it would have been nice to have all that.  I've still got many years of a mortgage to pay off.

But would I really be happier if I had taken another route, or would I have achieved more?  That's hard to say.  I suspect that my level of contentment would not be very different whatever I was doing.  Moreover, I didn't go into law, medicine, finance or private business because those areas didn't appeal to me.  Maybe I didn't know much about them and so my choice was not really well informed, but there's a good chance that I was right, and I really wouldn't have liked those careers.  Of course, my current career choice is by no means perfect, especially when dealing with budget cuts and idiot administrators, as well as students who have only a very faint understanding of what I really talking about and who just see me as a problem in their lives.  But I have ways of dealing with all that.  What I like about the job is the flexibility it gives me, the opportunity for travel, the ability to meet some really interesting, smart and good people, to make a genuine difference in some students' lives, and to participate in worthwhile academic discussions.

While some people do apparently have very well planned out lives, and figure out their options early on, I don't think that's very common.  Most people's lives are affected by many random factors, and it isn't a bad strategy to go with what seems like a good option at the time.  Focusing on "what if"s and "if only"s isn't very helpful.  Better to make the best of what you have got.  That doesn't mean you have to stick to the same career path if you don't like what you are doing; sometimes it is better to get out if you are unhappy. 

It is true that some career choices, like some marriages, are just straightforward mistakes that really cause a lot of trouble and are to be deeply regretted.  But that's pretty rare.  It worked out OK for me.

Very nice analysis. I laughed out loud when I read about how students perceive us as [nagging] "problems" they have to contend with. It's very accurate. As I walk into the class, they are all sitting there with telling expressions on their faces "Ugh. Not her again. Not 3 hours of this stuff." I want to tell them that the feeling is mutual, especially on these hot, long summer days. One wrote to me the other day (mind you, he's all of 18) and said "I totally disagree with you [on what you wrote you dissertation on]. I'll give the benefit of the doubt until you send me your paper [he meant dissertation] to read." Mind you, he's not disagreeing with regard to content (since he's never read it), he's just disagreeing because his religion tells him something that is not, in any way, supported in the textual tradition.

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Quote from: cgfunmathguy
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yemaya
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« Reply #57 on: July 22, 2012, 4:15:41 PM »

Most of my peers from undergraduate ended up with jobs that paid a lot more money than mine.  Some of them can already retire, and I think one has.  Many have big houses in expensive neighborhoods.  Sometimes they talk about their vacations where they go to exclusive places in France and have meals cooked by executive chefs.  I sometimes think it would have been nice to have all that.  I've still got many years of a mortgage to pay off.

But would I really be happier if I had taken another route, or would I have achieved more?  That's hard to say.  I suspect that my level of contentment would not be very different whatever I was doing.  Moreover, I didn't go into law, medicine, finance or private business because those areas didn't appeal to me.  Maybe I didn't know much about them and so my choice was not really well informed, but there's a good chance that I was right, and I really wouldn't have liked those careers.  Of course, my current career choice is by no means perfect, especially when dealing with budget cuts and idiot administrators, as well as students who have only a very faint understanding of what I really talking about and who just see me as a problem in their lives.  But I have ways of dealing with all that.  What I like about the job is the flexibility it gives me, the opportunity for travel, the ability to meet some really interesting, smart and good people, to make a genuine difference in some students' lives, and to participate in worthwhile academic discussions.

While some people do apparently have very well planned out lives, and figure out their options early on, I don't think that's very common.  Most people's lives are affected by many random factors, and it isn't a bad strategy to go with what seems like a good option at the time.  Focusing on "what if"s and "if only"s isn't very helpful.  Better to make the best of what you have got.  That doesn't mean you have to stick to the same career path if you don't like what you are doing; sometimes it is better to get out if you are unhappy. 

It is true that some career choices, like some marriages, are just straightforward mistakes that really cause a lot of trouble and are to be deeply regretted.  But that's pretty rare.  It worked out OK for me.

Very nice analysis. I laughed out loud when I read about how students perceive us as [nagging] "problems" they have to contend with. It's very accurate. As I walk into the class, they are all sitting there with telling expressions on their faces "Ugh. Not her again. Not 3 hours of this stuff." I want to tell them that the feeling is mutual, especially on these hot, long summer days. One wrote to me the other day (mind you, he's all of 18) and said "I totally disagree with you [on what you wrote you dissertation on]. I'll give the benefit of the doubt until you send me your paper [he meant dissertation] to read." Mind you, he's not disagreeing with regard to content (since he's never read it), he's just disagreeing because his religion tells him something that is not, in any way, supported in the textual tradition.



This is priceless, that an 18 year old first year thinks that they're on the same level.  To be fair, my own (physician) mother insisted on referring to my dissertation as a "paper," until she saw it in its 450ish-page glory and the sheer volume of the original research involved. 
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infopri
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« Reply #58 on: July 22, 2012, 4:32:08 PM »

To be fair, my own (physician) mother insisted on referring to my dissertation as a "paper," until she saw it in its 450ish-page glory and the sheer volume of the original research involved. 

My sister used to ask me whether I'd finished my "paper" yet, too.  To this day, I think she thinks I just went to the library, read some books, and then did a book report.  (What I actually did was collect and analyze empirical data from nearly 500 respondents.)  She has seen the actual, bound dissertation--but since her reading is limited to People magazine and Soap Opera Digest (literally), her eyes just sort of glaze over when she sees hundreds of pages without a single photograph, or appendices full of statistical tables.  The only part she actually read was the acknowledgments.  (I asked her whether she read the two-paragraph abstract, and she admitted that she hadn't.)

But I'm used to that.  My mother was a school librarian, and I once wrote a short (six-page) article for a professional library magazine.  I was so excited that, for once, I had something that my mother would be able to relate to, as the article, obviously, was written for a librarian (i.e., practitioner) audience.  (I'm not a librarian, but the article described the legal implications of <my area of expertise> for libraries.)  It turned out that she didn't read it, though, because she saw that it had big words--like "telecommunications"--and convinced herself that it would be of little interest and/or she wouldn't understand it.
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lucy_
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« Reply #59 on: July 22, 2012, 4:33:01 PM »

20+ years since PhD for both my husband and me.

I am a tenured associate professor in the field I received my PhD in.

My husband quit his paid position in his field to focus on his art, once I received tenure.

We both received degrees in the sciences and thus did not have to pay for our graduate education,
instead we were both paid a stipend to TA and then do research.

We both also enjoyed our time in graduate school.

I suppose if we had had to pay or had had a miserable time, then perhaps we'd regret getting our PhD's, especially my husband, since he is no longer technically using it.

But, neither of us regret getting our PhDs, neither me who "uses" it or my husband who no longer does.



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