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Topic: phd - how is it like?  (Read 32894 times)

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Offline mir

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phd - how is it like?
« on: July 20, 2007, 07:13:49 AM »
I have until 5th of August to decide if Im going to do a phd.

But Im wondering, is it really so bad being a phd-student like that presented in the piled higher and deeper-comics? See this stripe and others:



???

What is your experience (and dont be afraid to tell the truth, just ignore what you said later on)...
No single thing abides, but all things flow.
Fragment to fragment clings, and thus they grow
Until we know and name them.
Then by degrees they change and are no more
The things we know.
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Offline Mitch

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2007, 04:50:56 PM »
Read every one of those PhD comics, they are surprisingly accurate at describing the graduate student lifestyle.
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Offline enahs

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2007, 12:17:17 AM »
While I am not actually officially working on my Ph.D. now, I will eventually.

I have been told, by many people that both have phd's and by people with just masters that make more money and enjoy their job more then people with phd' and are generally more knowledgeable; That the whole going for a Ph.D. is a race, a race to see which happens first, you get a life or you get your degree.


Really though, if you want to do your own research in chemistry you need a Ph.D..

Offline mir

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2007, 07:44:53 AM »
Read every one of those PhD comics, they are surprisingly accurate at describing the graduate student lifestyle.

Im a bit naive, I thought the phd-comics was only a caricature of the real world. And now you are saying that its true? What can I say, then the phd-comics is my Bible until the 5th of August  ;D
No single thing abides, but all things flow.
Fragment to fragment clings, and thus they grow
Until we know and name them.
Then by degrees they change and are no more
The things we know.
- Titus Lucretius Carus

http://www.ife.no

Offline lemonoman

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2007, 09:14:47 AM »
PHD Comics really only show part of it.

They don't touch of stuff like the harem of sexy women who'll want you for themselves, the sleeping on top of piles of money, or the salesmen who'll give you a new car everytime he stops by.  And then the salesman offers you his wife for a night.

Offline enahs

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2007, 11:33:59 AM »
lemonoman is confusing Ph.D. with being a famous movie celebrity. Easy mistake to make. I know I am one of the sexiest men alive, so I figure all my other chemistry compadreas are as well, right?

Offline hmx9123

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2007, 09:55:43 PM »
Surprisingly, the PhD is not a test of your ability but a test of your perseverance.  Expect the worst 2-3 years of your life up front, then followed by 2-3 years of hard work.  Make damn sure you do your PhD in a location that you like or you'll be worse than miserable.  If you've ever been in the military, imagine boot camp for 5 years.

Offline lemonoman

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2007, 11:31:33 PM »
Seriously though, it depends soo much on what your supervisor is like.

Some supervisors will demand you be in the lab for a certain number of hours (sometimes ridiculously long) ... some are very very lenient, and as long as you get your work done, they really don't care when you're there.

Offline DrCMS

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2007, 04:36:46 AM »
Lemonoman has hit the nail on the head, your supervisor is key to how much time you have to spend in the lab.

The social side of things is important to keep you going when experiments fail and to celebrate when they don't.

I had a great time doing my PhD maybe the best 3 years of my life.
The first 2 years were free and easy ~6-7 hours a day in the lab and everynight down the pub till closing time.  Maybe a few hours on a Saturday in the lab or on the NMR but ever Sunday free. The third year I started to put longer hours in ~7-8 hours a day 6 days a week going up to ~10-12 hours a day 7 days a week when i was finishing everything off.  That meant only a few hours in the pub each night.

Offline AWK

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2007, 06:18:13 AM »
THink also about the future. Your earnings can be much higher
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Offline mir

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2007, 03:35:31 PM »
THink also about the future. Your earnings can be much higher

But I cant ignore the fact that having "only" a MSc is an advantage too:
  - More jobs available
  - The industry is looking at you as expertise they can shape into what fits them best
  - You are not very specialized which makes you a generalist
  - Stability in income and you dont need to move to new jobs every time
  - You are on the edge of over-qualification and still a potato (you can "grow" everywhere even in Arctic)

PhD have following downsides which I have heard and read:
  -  A PhD-student is travelling on a emotional roller-coaster with 90% depression and 10% pure ecstasy.
  -  10-12 hours in the lab and pressure builds up since people are expecting results.
  -  Fewer jobs later on, most of them are administrative jobs. When it comes to jobs, a professional scientist is doomed to jump from project to project the first years, since they all are based on short-term contracts. No security and difficulties in building networks outside the job-related circle.

But if you want to be a leader, a PhD-degree is an huge advantage.

I think, I will take some 100-courses in physics and mathematics the following year. And let this decision mature into something I can stand for 100%.
No single thing abides, but all things flow.
Fragment to fragment clings, and thus they grow
Until we know and name them.
Then by degrees they change and are no more
The things we know.
- Titus Lucretius Carus

http://www.ife.no

Offline enahs

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2007, 08:40:30 PM »
Your Ph.D. con about fewer jobs and the type is completely wrong. Not only do you have all the opportunities opened up by having a Ph.D., but you also have access to all the opportunities opened up by having just a masters. You also have a much better chance of getting that job that just requires a masters if you have a Ph.D., and getting it at better pay as well, or at least better benefits.


Really, if you want to do your own research, you either need to make something and patent it and become a billionaire and start your own research company, or get a PhD. If you just want a good, challenging and hopefully enjoyable job then a masters is probably fine.


And the whole emotional roller coaster thing about Ph.D. I just do not get bothered by those kind of things.  Do it because you can find something in it your can enjoy.

And just because you set out to achieve some goal and you fail, does not mean you failed as a scientists and your project was a wash and you do not get your Ph.D.. You can learn just as much from your mistakes.


My adviser keeps telling me "If you are not making mistake or not failing at something you are not doing real research.".

Not that I am officially working towards a Ph.D. or anything. Long complicated annoying story that has nothing to do with anything except the bureaucracy of the graduate school and nothing to do with the chemistry graduate school its self.


 

Offline Berettagtz

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2007, 03:03:30 PM »
so from your posts I get the impression that going to a phD school is mostly, if not all research.  How many classes/credits do you have to take?  And also on average how long does it take to get a phD after 4 years of undergrad?  Furthermore, how much is the average phD tuition?

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2007, 04:32:06 PM »
PhD is about proving you can do research by yourself. It is not about "I am going to teach you multiplication table" but about "let's define operation and call it multiplication. Find out whether someone did it before, find out whether multiplication table exists, and if not - try to derive/calculate one by yourself".
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Offline enahs

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Re: phd - how is it like?
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2007, 04:42:38 PM »
so from your posts I get the impression that going to a phD school is mostly, if not all research.  How many classes/credits do you have to take?  And also on average how long does it take to get a phD after 4 years of undergrad?  Furthermore, how much is the average phD tuition?


Well, unless you have really convinced the graduate department, they will make you go through the basic classes on your way towards a Masters Degree. Depending on the situation, and how many of those classes they make you take, but, even if they made you do everything required for a MS it would take you only two years to complete those. After that, yes it is pretty much all research; your own and you being the gofer of other faculty members.

At the minimum of going straight from BS towards a PHD they would make you take at least 3 of the 4 basic masters level core chemistry classes (one organic, analytical, inorganic and physical chemistry); I would imagine.

There are a few difference in the general outline for schools in the USA or say in Europe, when it comes to graduate level.



As for the time, it takes some people not long and some people really long.

As for tuition, in the hard science, especially chemistry with it being such a core science important to every major industry, you rarely have to pay tuition. You tuition is paid and you usually get a stipend. You also can get in on grant money, and if you are helping some other professor with their work, they sponsor you with some of their grant money (this is in part what the grant money is actually for).

Maybe the first semester or two, or if it is a really big school you will have to pay. But the cost is totally dependent on the area and school. I could easily find you graduate programs with 1/4th the price of some undergraduate programs.

It is usually not that hard to get a stipend and tuition paid (well, not in the parts of the US I have ever lived and know people attending graduate schools). Many schools will require you to be a TA or teach a freshman lab, etc. to qualify for the stipend though.

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