PhD Guide: How do you know if pursuing a PhD is a good investment of your time and money?

PhD Guide: Finishing your Ph.D. is no easy task. I know that I have only finished my Ph.D. a few years back, but I have had countless people tell me that it is a very hard task and that it took them years to complete. Along with this, there are tons of people on YouTube talking about their experiences.

If you watch any videos or read the forums, many people complain about how challenging it was and how unrewarding the whole experience was for them. There are also people talking positively about the whole experience.

I wanted to write this article based on my own experiences finishing my Ph.D. If you are thinking about finishing your Ph.D., then there are a few things that you need to think about before you do so.

Do you find yourself doubting whether or not you are deserving?

Don’t doubt that you are. I would strongly encourage you not to doubt it at all. No Ph.D. is a walk in the park. If you compare your Ph.D. to a regular job, then the work you would have to do on a day-to-day basis in your Ph.D. would be equal to a full-time job. You would be getting up early in the morning to prepare and work. You would be spending many hours researching and studying. You would be working endless hours on writing your thesis, and your thesis would need to be able to stand up to the scrutiny of a panel of experts.

If you are finding it difficult to believe that you are deserving of your Ph.D., then I would advise you to take a step back and think about how hard you have worked for this degree. You have worked hard. You have been dedicated to this course. You have put all of your energy in, and you have shown that you can successfully carry out a project of this scale.

Are you confident in your abilities?

Your Ph.D. will most likely be a project which will require you to use a multitude of different skills. From statistics to management. From marketing to law. It is important to be confident in your abilities.

Some people can be shy and nervous in social situations, but it is important to remember that these projects are opportunities for you to shine. You are getting a chance to put your hard work to good use. You are getting the chance to meet new people and learn new things.

Going into a Ph.D. project is not a chance for you to feel sorry for yourself. It is a chance for you to grow. You are growing as a person and capable of carrying out a project of this scale. Make sure that you are confident in your abilities.

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Are you determined to succeed?

One of the most important traits of a postgraduate student is determination. Many people can be scared of failure or reluctant to try something if they believe that they may fail.

Going into anything like this is a matter of making yourself determined to succeed. You have set yourself a goal. You have invested a lot of hard work into this project. You are determined to see this project through to its completion.

Many people who go into PhDs believe that they are going into it for prestige. The desire to get involved with research and make a difference. The desire to work with some interesting people. However, I think that the reality is a lot different.

Most people who go into PhDs are going into it because they want a challenge. They want a challenge that will demand a lot of their time and energy. They want a challenge that will test their resolve—a challenge that will test their determination.

Finishing your Ph.D. is a big milestone. It is a huge accomplishment and something that you should feel proud of. However, working out whether or not you should receive your Ph.D. can be a hard process. This table might help you think about some of the questions in your mind.

How sure am I that I deserve it?

Are you sure? Even if you are positive, you may still doubt. Even to be positive, there are several things to consider.

How big is the gap in your research?

If you are only a new research student, then it is possible that you have not yet done enough to qualify for a doctorate.

Are you fully prepared for your degree?

You spent 4-7 years studying for your Ph.D. You have built up a knowledge base and a network of contacts amongst the scientific community. You have also gained experience in various fields. Have you checked that you have done enough?

Is there anyone else competing?

Your doctorate is very competitive. There are usually several students working towards the same degree. Ensure that you do your research and that there is no more advanced than you. If you have 2-3 good competitors, then it is unlikely that you will necessarily be awarded the doctorate.

Does my work pass the standards?

Your dissertation has to present a body of work in which critical thinking can be backed up by evidence. Do you have enough?

Have I got the right supervisor?

Your dissertation has to be approved by your thesis committee. This committee is made up of professors who have PhDs themselves. They are going to be your toughest critics. If your supervisor is not supportive, then it is unlikely that you will be awarded your doctorate.

Will I get a promotion after the doctorate?

A doctorate is a great way to increase your credibility. However, your doctorate may not always help you in other ways. Some jobs may not require you to have doctorates, and if you had a doctorate, you might be passed over for jobs that do not require a Ph.D.

Answering these questions will help determine how much you should trust your instinct. If you are positive and feel that you have achieved enough, it may be good to apply for your doctorate.

However, if you feel a little unsure, it may be a good idea to put a little more work into your studies. If you are nearly there, it may be a good idea to take a step back and ensure that you have done enough.

What if you have doubts?

If at all possible, try to talk to another Ph.D. Holders. They will be able to give you their thoughts on whether you deserve it.

If you are confident and feel you have what it takes, then it may be a good idea to apply for your doctorate.

The alternative is not to obtain your doctorate at all.

It is a big decision, and it may hurt like hell. However, the alternative is that you miss the opportunity of a lifetime. You may have a promising future, and you never get the chance to show the world what you have achieved.

If you are positive and have done enough, you may be lucky enough to receive your doctorate in the long run. However, if you do not get your doctorate, it is not the end of the world. There are many opportunities out there. You may need to move on.

That being said, if you do doubt whether you deserve it, then don’t do it. You have worked so hard and achieved so much to get where you are. You may not be worthy now, but if you work hard, maybe it will be in the future.

Have a wonderful week. I have included some further thoughts below.

If you feel an urge to doubt yourself, I will encourage you to get out and talk to other Ph.D. graduates. They are probably going through exactly what you are.

Bottom Line

I hope this article has given you some food for thought if you are thinking about finishing your Ph.D. It is a decision that you will have to make on your own. If you are confident that you are worthy of your degree and have what it takes, then go for it.


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