How should you respond when a student says something you said or did was domineering, insensitive, racist or sexist? What if you think that criticism is unfair or inappropriate? What if you think the critic has a good point and you feel bad about it?
Asking a professor whether you should pursue a Ph.D. is a little like asking The Rock — aka Dwayne Douglas Johnson, the world’s highest-paid actor last year — whether you should become an actor.
Once you enter a doctoral program, the main problem isn’t necessarily that you can’t finish. I know very few people who left graduate school because they weren’t smart enough to finish — it happens, but it’s rare. More often people leave because they just decide getting a Ph.D. isn’t for them. The truth is: It’s very difficult to understand what academic life is like until you actually try it, and lots of people try it and decide it’s not a good fit.
This, then, is why you should be wary of any advice you receive from professors about graduate school: It’s coming entirely from people who decided that academe was a good fit for them.
Summer vacations and travel can sometimes provide time to reflect on the arc of our adult life. These reflections can be a negative or a positive experience.
The postdoctoral community is an essential component of the academic and scientific workforce. As economic and political pressures impacting these enterprises continue to change, the postdoc experience has evolved from short, focused periods of training into often multidisciplinary, extended positions with less clear outcomes. As efforts are underway to amend U.S. federally funded research policies, the paucity of postdoc data has made evaluating the impact of policy recommendations challenging. Here we present comprehensive survey results from over 7,600 postdocs based at 351 academic and non-academic U.S. institutions in 2016. In addition to demographic and salary information, we present multivariate analyses on the factors that influence postdoc career plans and mentorship satisfaction in this population. We further analyze gender dynamics and expose wage disparities and career choice differences. Academic research positions remain the predominant career choice of postdocs in the U.S., although unequally between postdocs based on gender and residency status. Receiving mentorship training during the postdoctoral period has a large, positive effect on postdoc mentorship satisfaction. Strikingly, the quality of and satisfaction with postdoc mentorship appears to also heavily influence career choice. The data presented here are the most comprehensive data on the U.S. postdoc population to date. These results provide an evidence basis for informing government and institutional policies, and establish a critical cornerstone for quantifying the effects of future legislation aimed at the academic and scientific workforce.
Writing about failure is hard. Even if the failure is only a perceived failure.
I officially walked away from my PhD program at a large R1 institution about a month ago. Writing the words “I officially withdraw” to the administration of my program was an incredibly difficult moment. I felt a large sense of loss, like I had just lost a family member. I was officially laying my PhD to rest.
I went into a prolonged term of mourning. Nothing felt right anymore. I felt like I didn’t know WHO I was anymore or where I fit into the world. I used to introduce myself as “Veronica, neuroscience graduate student”; now I’m just “Veronica”. Not having a way to identify myself to others made me feel worthless. I felt as if I was no longer contributing to the community or society and had become a burden to all those around me.