I Did, And Sometimes Regret It

I earned a PhD in Engineering. In some ways I don't think I am/was a good candidate for a PhD. I dislike writing intensely (yes, I recognize the irony here) and as a PhD you're supposed to perform research and publish your results. Fortunately I'm not in academia where you have to do that or you lose your job. Where I work it just hurts your rating at the end of the year if you don't publish. There are other reasons I don't think I'm and ideal "Doctor", but I'll spare you those, since I don't really want to write about them anyway.

So why did I continue with my education? I graduated with honors at the undergraduate level, and back then I probably could have had my pick of good paying jobs, well before the tech bubble burst. I've asked myself that many times and it really comes down to loving to solve complicated problems. I love it, and that was really what college, at least engineering college, is all about, solving problems. The higher you go the more complex the problems. I just really did well in college. I hated the pressure of tests and finals, but I also just kicked *** at doing it. I'm one of those people that was good at being a college student, so I prolonged it as long as I could by getting my PhD.

Getting a PhD is also, for the most part, a VERY individual effort. You may have some topic that's part of what a large group is working on, but, at least back then, that was rare. For the most part getting a PhD is you working intensely on some problem alone, with a small amount of help from your advisor. For the most part I tend to be a loner and so getting a PhD fed into that aspect of my personality well.

There's also the fact that before you finish your PhD and start working you don't know what having a PhD means in the working world, at least if you're a student who goes to college straight after high school. While getting a PhD is, usually, a VERY individual endeavor, when you get out into the working world you almost never work on something as an individual. You're much more often part of a large group of people working on a problem. This is quite different than what you do as a PhD student. And as a PhD you're often expected not only to work with a large group, but also lead a large group. That's not something I'm well suited to do.

I muddle my way through, and have for 15 years or so, but all things considered, if I had to do it over again, I probably wouldn't get a PhD.
iRant iRant
51-55, M
3 Responses Jan 7, 2013

You opened my eyes to some new perspectives actually.....it hasn't been long since I was able to detach myself from the "need to achieve" and I am glad that I could. But I haven't spent much time on the opposite perspectives yet, and this has granted me just that. Thank you :)

It's impressive that you have enough depth to consider this. I don't think I did at your age. I had a severe case of tunnel-vision and the "need to achieve" you mention.

I have my own share or burdens. But thank you once again :)
Honestly I just want to pursue happiness and experiences. If that means more fools quests and idiotic whimsy than that is what it will be. I've finished a bachelor ditched my masters and am currently looking for work. Perhaps I can even chomp down to work 4 days in the weeks and gain 1/7th of a lifetime of fun, depending on how fun my co-workers are :3

Diversity is simply too large to compare between individuals when you look at more than just a single moment.

Be glad you did it when you did, then! I am going for my MBA right now, with a psychologically imbalanced wife and four kids at home. Wish, now, that I had done this years ago....

Yeah, I don't think there's any way I could do it today, even if I wanted to. Too much in my life to focus so entirely on one goal.

Agreed! And be proud of your achievement - no matter how irrelevant to your career it may seem. They can never take it aWay from you!

Wow, Im surprised you probably wouldn't do it again. So, it seems you don't do well in groups...more of a loner, that carry over in other personal areas in your life? ; ) LOL

It depends on what's happening in the group, but yes, due to my personality and certain aspects of my marriage I am very skilled at activities pursued alone...Kitty. ;)