This is just all wrong
13 May 2012 10:25
|Well done on your decision. I did the same and am glad I did - I found it too boring and work better at practical things with lots of others...
The main thing in life is that we are happy - do what makes you happy and don't worry about disappointing people as they will support you whatever even if it takes a bit f time for hem to come around.
11 May 2012 19:59
|[quote]Quote From Havinalaugh:
Never again will I settle for not being happy and not enjoying what I do every day. Life is just too short to spend it being afraid and trying to please other people. [/quote]
Sounds like you've learned something in eight months that some people never learn in a whole lifetime!|
11 May 2012 13:23
|[quote]Quote From waddett:
There is more to life than trying to slog away at something that clearly makes you unhappy, and I hope you find something good to do soon.
Indeed. That's one of the reasons I left my first PhD. The good news is that it doesn't seem to have harmed my academic career (thus far) and I am now well into a second PhD that I really enjoy. So it can be done.
11 May 2012 12:37
|Well done for taking that step.
(I came out of my PhD this week, again like you not my undergraduate field, and am now looking for a different PhD to do: so can appreciate the tough decision you have had.)
There is more to life than trying to slog away at something that clearly makes you unhappy, and I hope you find something good to do soon.
11 May 2012 12:26
|Just wanted to update everyone! I have officially withdrawn from my PhD and will be finished in a couple of weeks. Speaking to my supervisors was the most terrifying thing I've ever had to do but in the end they were understanding and even supportive of my decision. The thought of what to do next is frightening but also extremely exciting. I've learned a lot from my experience in the world of academia and have really grown up over the last 8 months. Never again will I settle for not being happy and not enjoying what I do every day. Life is just too short to spend it being afraid and trying to please other people. Thank you to everyone for their help and if anybody should find themselves in the same position as me please get in touch as I'm happy to share my experiences.|
18 March 2012 22:40
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That's a tough position to be in! If you are absolutely sure then there's no point in putting yourself through more misery but there are some points to consider first. I agree with what the others have said so I won't say too much here!
Point 1 sounds quite normal as the point of a PhD is independent research but it's unfortunate that you are the only that does your specialism as that does make things more difficult. Is there anyone outside the research group that can help e.g. another academic in your dept? Training is variable between depts - I didn't get the help and support I would have expected either and it was quite tough going esp as my supervisor didn't communicate well either! This makes for a difficult time but having that I found other people were willing to help so I ended up relying on others alot more! Don't worry about feeling stupid as this seems to be a natural reaction of many who start as it's a big leap from undergrad or even Masters! There are going to be huge gaps in your knowledge otherwise there wouldn't be a point to doing it - think of it a steep learning curve and a challenge! It's like exploring the unknown - the edge of space/the final frontier! I took on a new topic area that was related to my background but a different area that I had no idea of.
Yeah academia is tough as you have to make huge sacrifices that people outside it don't see! They think it's really easy going and casual and nothing like industry which is frustrating! However, as someone pointed out if you were to get into a position of responsibility the same would apply outside of academia though they will probably pay you for it as overtime if they deem it necessary unless you are in a profession known for its long hours. The good thing about academia is that you get a lot of freedom and flexibility but you need to have the motivation and self control to keep going.
I hope this helps. Have you thought about whether this is just settling in nerves as it does take a while to settle in? You could give it a few more months and see if you've made progress at the end of your first year. If you feel the same you'll know it's time to move on before you have to write any end of year/upgrade reports. I would suggest you keep your options open and also keep an eye out for potential jobs incase as it would be awful not to have anything to go to.
Good luck and keep us updated esp if you want some moral support or just to chat!
17 March 2012 21:46
|Hi Havinalaugh. Just not wanting to do a PhD is a valid reason for walking away BUT can I be a bit of a devil's advocate here.
It must be really tough doing neuroscience, esp when it wasn't part of your foundation degree so I can imagine that your head is in a spin...however, with regard to training and support-as a doctoral student, I think the general thinking is that you are supposed to locate this yourself and then apply for it, etc. It isn't up to your team to do this for you. Are there any third or fourth year courses, or course work Master's units in the area, that you can sign up for OR sit in and audit to bring up your knowledge base in the next year? Some PhD course outlines or guides stress this aspect of the PhD 'training'. For example, in history, it was suggested that if you didn't have a second language by doctoral stage, then you should be learning one (just an example) or for students undertaking quantitative studies from an arts background-then statistics would be another course to sign up. I recognise that neuroscience is a formidable area but seriously, there may be some things you can do to help-just don't expect your supervisors to go out hunting them up for you-generally they leave it to you (in my experience that is).
Believe me, once you have collected data you will be analysing like crazy and once you are writing up in discussion your critical thinking skills will be a huge part of that-plus just doing the lit review and putting your research questions/hypotheses into the research framework will use a lot of critical analysis.
It sucks when you have a supervisor who isn't friendly-but it would be a bit like work. You can have a great manager to report to or you can have one that is really critical or a micromanager, or who values different qualities than the ones you excel in-and you end up having to make a choice-you can deal with it, jump through your unlikeable manager's hoops and not worry too much about their general 'niceness' or whatever beyond the immediate work situation (just compartmentalise), or you can try to find a new one. What I have found though, is if a manager or supervisor is formidable or not likeable- you will not be the only person who experiences this-so too will the rest of the world. Sometimes just knowing this fact helps a lot!
I would say 'hang in there' for a bit longer. PhD's are tough but they are valuable even if you don't want academia-they are not just for being an academic. If you want to publish articles, run a department or area in science, etc-then a PhD will actually help you with this.
But finally, it is your choice and if you really don't want to do it- or to do it right now (people do leave and complete a different one later in life) then those reasons are good enough. I have got to go now if I want to catch my 'spin' class...I find exercise both individual running and shared classes is probably the biggest most helpful thing that gets me through...so off I go and good luck. It is horrible being in the doldrums...I was there earlier this week not so much because of PhD stuff (that's going okay) but work issues and colleagues...but the thing is that these things pass and if you stay positive, they usually end well.|
15 March 2012 11:36
|I'm glad all the advice was of help. Six months of feeling like that is telling but reading your most recent post you seem to have your head screwed on and I think your plan seems like a good one. I hope you have more luck sending your CV around than I'm currently having and I hope everything works out for you.
Do let us know how you get on.(up)|
15 March 2012 11:22
|Thanks for your replies, they've been really helpful, I really appreciate it!! :-)
I've been feeling this way pretty much since day one but stuck it out telling myself I was a new PhD student and was supposed to feel terrible and inadequete for a while, unfortunately that feeling never went away!
I'm not afraid of hard work, I was aware that a PhD would require long hours and sacrifice and I was fully commited to doing that for 3 or 4 years, I think my problem is that I don't want to make those sacrifices forever. If I'm honest, from a financial point of view no I can't afford to leave now and that's an issue. I feel like running back home is a bad idea so I agree that I need a plan of action. I'm very aware of the fact that I don't want to make another major commitment before I'm sure of what I want to do but also that all of the practical experience I have is in the field I'm in now and would struggle to get paid work in some of the other career avenues I'm considering. A tentative plan that I've formulated is to stick where I am for a few months (although not many as I may lose my mind) and simultaneously gain some voluntary work experience in a field I'd like to try and hope that's enough to get a basic grade job when I come out of this. I'm also looking for jobs as I go and sending out C.Vs just on the off chance!|
14 March 2012 21:59
|While I think from your post that walking away as amicably as possible is probably best in this case - there is absolutely no shame in saying this isn't right for me - I have a few thoughts.
1) Have you got a plan of what you are going to do instead? Can you actually afford to just walk away now, especially if it means an expensive move back home, having to overpay rent etc to get out of a contract? Don't walk out without thinking through the finances - there may be better points to quit.
2) You're right to say that academia is not good for work-life balances and perhaps does demand sacrifices beyond the rational but long hours are the norm in a lot of graduate jobs. 9-5 is just not something that many desirable jobs offer. What do you want to do instead? You might want to look into alternatives a bit before jumping into something else. Similarly, although you say your supervisor is harsh, you are probably going to get that elsewhere too. It's one of the nastier bits about transitioning from being an undergraduate in my experience - my first boss in the civil service was a slavedriver with sadistic tendencies, but I think a lot of why I found him so hard to deal with is that I couldn't do much right and was rightly criticised, but I was used to praise at university. The change was hard to deal with - what I'm trying to say is how much of the way you feel about the specificities of your PhD and how much about that difficult transition. Talk to friends doing other things and see how they are feeling.
Even after saying all of that I think what you say about the PhD topic itself (point 1) makes it sound like a 'doomed to failure' experience, and I think that reason for walking away now is very very valid.|
14 March 2012 18:56
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You're certainly not havinalaugh judging by your post but if you can understand Deb's post (sadly I can't) you should be able to get to grips with your PhD.
Sorry, I couldn't resist havinalaugh :p
More seriously, a lot of people feel overwhelmed starting a PhD. How long have you been feeling like this?
Could you and your supervisor talk it through and perhaps make it more towards your strengths? You need to find a way to 'sell' this to her.
Plough on, PhD's are hard work but the odds are strongly in your favour that you'll pass.
Plough on but look for jobs as well and then quit if you get one.
If I think of anything else I'll let you know but do some brainstorming.
Whatever, please know you are not alone but I hope it all works out.
14 March 2012 18:15
|i do have same problem is u readmy post .. today i do ask to have meeting with supervisore and do let her it is confuse even i dont know what is the aim of my project ..and force her to re thinking ..what i want you to know research is in fact is white sheath . you cannot plan it ..just go and do ur expirment ,read lot , and get ur result try to interpretate, if didnot work so still there is many white sheat in ur book .. go on
dont stop ur research keep on , no necessary be in acadmia ..no aday the certificate is import to get ceratin level of life .. so stay with your self and rethink
14 March 2012 18:00
So, as this is my first post on the forum I think I should introduce myself! I'm 6 months into my PhD which is roughly based in the fields of neuroscience and cell biology. I work in the U.K but just moved here in September. My degree is in zoology and I moved straight from my undergraduate into my PhD. Long story short, I want to quit. I'm finding the PhD very tough and there are number of fundamental issues with it that have brought me to the "run away as fast as you can" conclusion
1. I am not a neuroscientist! Now I realise that lots of people move down a different route when they start a PhD but I am WAY out of my depth. The problem is that nobody else in my group works on the brain, just me. My supervisors (although amazing scientists) have no experience of working in neuroscience. Because of this I've spent my time thus far "figuring things out" and "training myself" with little to no guidance. I feel stupid all the time. I knew what the project was about before I signed up but my supervisors were aware of my background and experience and I thought I would get a lot more training and support. I haven't. I think what frustrates me the most is that I chose to do a PhD so I could THINK CRITICALLY about a problem, ANALYSE it and SOLVE it. I can do none of these things due to the huge gaps in my knowledge.
2. I'm terrified of my supervisor. She's harsh, expects a LOT and we don't communicate well, need I say more?
3. I don't want to go into academia. I thought I did but now that I'm in an academic environment and see the huge sacrifices you have to make at every stage of your career I don't want it. Work/life balance is important to me and I don't think I should be made feel guilty if I leave work before 6:30. It's ridiculous!
So I guess what I'm looking for is first of all confirmation that these are valid reasons to walk away. I feel they are but as a scientist I just love an unbiased opinion! Secondly I was wondering if anybody had any advice on how to go about it. I don't want to fight with my supervisors and would like to leave things as amicably as possible, any tips?? Also, a shout out to anybody else in the same position, input from like-minded types would be very welcome!!