Wednesday, September 9, 2009

5 reasons not to do a PhD, and 5 reasons to give it a go...

Being a mum aint healthy for your career. I've spent the last 10 years working part-time, working for myself, and teaching my craft rather than practicing it. With my youngest child going to school next year I feel the need to get back into it again. Trouble is, Im not sure what "it" is.  I now live in a big country town and there are few positions for an architect and/or academic.  I realise its been 10 years since I have worked, proper like, for an architecture firm. Ive had a bit of a look at the architectural practices here, and there are only one or two that do the kind of work that id enjoy, and they are, I am told, pretty blokey offices. Im just not sure I can handle the posturing egos that these kind of firms seem to foster. Its just all so tiresome and unnecessary. So, what to do????????? Ive looked at changing fields, becoming a secondary school teacher, studying yoga seriously, but neither option really grabs me as a something I want to do as a JOB.

So, the option of a PhD seems to  be a good one in many ways. If I want to get back into being an academic, its vital to have one of 'em. And if I dont, well, its not time wasted, its something of value that might even contribute to the well of knowledge....who knows?

So here are the reasons I can think of NOT to do one:
  1. Isolation. Immeasurable hours of solo researching, reading, writing.
  2. Stipend pretty pathetic, really.
  3. Three year target for completion impossible
  4. Another slab of my life within the institution (and not in the real world ?)
  5. The pain of completion....having seen someone I love go through this, im not so sure I would wish this on myself.

    And on the positive side:
  1. The luxury of time to read, consider, write in an area of interest.
  2. Hey, its money to do the above. And its tax free. And my time would be (largely) self directed.
  3.  I could construct ways of trying to keep the scope bounded, limit the topic, early.
  4. A PhD provides a direction, a sense of purpose and it has some value. Not exactly sure if it will make me more, or less empolyable in a professional sense, but the opportunity to reflect on and maybe even refigure the 'real world' is a fine thing.
  5. All things worth doing have a certain amount of pain attached, certainly at the 'delivery end. (Note not so subtle analogy with childbirth...haha!)
Anything Ive missed here guys?


  1. yup. firstly, do you want to be an academic? secondly, do you want to do a PhD? theyre both horriffic and sustainable only if youre committed to what they entail. otherwise the pain is awful!

  2. damn....the critical questions...
    gut response: no, and no!
    but the reasons are still unclear in my mind.

  3. I feel the same so often!
    Both partner in life and partner in business think I should but I am still not falling in- have not found something that will keep me interested for 3 years (have not tried too hard either). I could not imagine it in isolation- have always thought that as a part of a Uni ARC grant team? So some of the negative can be changed- but Kelly had the right questions already! On the other hand- what I do is not strictly academic, but a PhD helps a long way if you want to work in a specialist field such as mine. So it could help you in other ways for your career as well not just academia... Take out the OMG tool!

  4. I'd rather kick myself for trying than kick myself for not trying at all - mind you I am not an academic so feel free to disregard this!

  5. Hi Katy! Haha... you may be right I might reach 60 and think, now why the hell didnt I do it while I had a chance! In fact I just went walking with artist friend of mine last week and she saud as much to me...she wished she had done one in her early 40's, combining it with motherhood.

  6. Ana, I know your blokes want you to do one... S has not really said as much to me. He is happy for me to do one if I want to and will support me with that. Its gotta be your own decision, right? The OMG tool was sadly inconclusive in this matter.

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