Blueroselady's Weblog

I wish you abundant happiness, health & wealth

Is PhD really a waste of time?

with one comment

I just finished reading an article in the Economist.

In life, we are facing multiple choices and making decisions. According to the Pareto’s Law, 20% of our decisions will affect 80% of our life. My decision to embark on a graduate study did significantly affect my life, I have learned things that I want to do and things that I do not want to do. I think the most important is, no matter what decisions you make, you tell yourself that you will enjoy opportunities to grow and contribute. It is not like decision A is wrong, decision B is right. It is more like decision A will bring you particular good things, decision B will bring you another kind of good things, so you will never fear in making decisions and regret whatever decisions you made.

Here are things that I am grateful for from my PhD days:

Fulfilling a dream
. Idealistically, PhD is an abbreviation for People Have Dreams. Not everyone has the opportunity to pursue a PhD. One needs good undergraduate records. Honestly, I meet many people who have higher IQ than me (I know that based on how fast they understand concepts / think of answers), but I was diligent and committed to do well in my academic study. None of my parents had enjoyed college or even the basic education, so being able to complete a study until the highest level is a personal and family dream for me during my school time. Then, after I passed my viva, I learned that there are Doctor of Sciences beyond PhD. The person who told me that is one of my supervisors, a professor with Doctor of Sciences. Like the saying, there will always be a higher mountain. However, completing my PhD makes me believe that I can fulfill any dream that I have in life.
Note: some universities may award very prominent leaders in business / government an honorary degree, this is another path to PhD.

Learning to trust my intuition. I made a crucial decision in the beginning of my study, though I had to say sorry to some people (in order not to upset them), I know deep inside I made the right decision. Those people kept on telling me that I would regret, but I have no regret now. I agree with Tim, regret is past-tense decision making. I am glad now that I made the audacious decision at that time.

Meeting friends of lifetime from around the globe. You can also meet international friends if you work in international firm, but PhD students are ‘slaves’, at least according to the Economist article and suffering people find consolation in each other. We have been super good friends.

Living frugally. I could survive without meat for a week until the next free meal opportunity. I managed to save a little from my PhD stipend for my parents. Unlike a senior MR who straight away went to set up her business and honing her sales skills, of course my earning was not comparable to my senior. After all, PhD stipends, if not self-funded, are often from generous donations of charitable organizations, philanthropists, and tax payers money. It does not seem right to be rich from stipend money, whereas it is laudable for my senior to earn 6 digits in her first four years of business.

More academic learning somehow enhanced my analytical and writing skills. It was during my PhD study that I produced writings that won me tickets to inspiring meetings not related to my thesis topic, but more on global issues. I met a friend of Warren Buffett who is so friendly and inspiring. I listened to so many enthusiastic entrepreneurs, decision makers, world leaders. Those are my happiest holidays. I seldom took time off, because I did not know how many days per annum I was allowed to take vacation. In fact, I could be considered over-worked.

Unleashing my courage and becoming a calculated risk-taker. I did some activities that I would never want to take before, I did not know how I managed to gather my courage but I know it has to be from within.

Surviving a hardship. As mentioned in the article, seven-day weeks, ten-hour days, and low pay are for PhD students. It takes great mental and physical strength to survive life like this. But what does not kill you, makes you stronger. Is it always true? But I witnessed how some surviving PhD students, with their white hair, wrinkles at merely 30s moved on to post-doc and continued the hardship, with greater responsibility and demands from their bosses. Indeed, I am concerned with a friend continuous fatigue just after completing his PhD with a supervisor whose interests are to squeeze as much juice as possible out of his students. The article also mentioned that the misaligned interests of academics / universities versus those of PhD students. The academics need cheap labors (PhD students and postdoc). Ideally, these academics play a mentoring role, but in real life, they are like slave drivers. Seeing how a mentor of mine do things, I do not want to be like him, squeezing poor PhD students. Fortunately, I also encounter two nice mentors.

My beautiful alma mater, an open space museum and garden. For the reputation of my alma mater, people like to "wow" in words or eyes, sometimes I feel like carrying an LV bag, that is why I swear not to buy any LV bag. I prefer high quality, non-branded, sometimes ethnic bags, with their own identity. I want to be regarded based on my character and the quality of my work, not based on the bag I carried (the school I went to). A matter of brand aside, I love the fresh air, the grass, the flora and fauna, the romantic architectures, the history, and many people whom I encounter there.

Thank you!

Advertisements

Written by blueroselady

December 25, 2012 at 11:13 am

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] remember that there are no absolute failures, but temporary setbacks), past achievements (e.g. PhD), and future plans (including being a business-owner entrepreneur, an agent of positive […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: