Is a PhD for Everyone? Know for Yourself!

Even though it may be called a mere professional qualification, a PhD is not meant for everyone. Academic brightness or excellence in academic grades is not the only pre requisite for a good PhD student. It requires much more than that from a scholar. It requires an independent, self-driven, persistent, flexible , bright, focussed , motivated, dedicated, disciplined, creative……and the list is endless. More of these skills you have the smoother your journey becomes.

I have been into academics for over two decades now and have witnessed a lot of students who get disillusioned with their PhD programmes. This so happens because they start with a lot of unrealistic expectations and rather than learning from other’s mistakes, they repeatedly commit the same mistakes over and over again. Though it is completely agreed that the circumstances in a PhD are completely distinctive at each stage, there are certain situations that remain unchanged, irrespective of the stage of the PhD , discipline chosen or the country where the course being pursued.

Looking at all this wouldn’t it be better to pick lessons from the pitfalls and mistakes of others so as to save yourself from all the frustration, loss of time and dissatisfaction.

Find here some tips that would help you to face the decision that you have now taken:

1. Be cautious of a wise selection of your supervisor. Invest time and effort at the initial stage itself so that you can be sure of not having to face the miseries of a wrong choice of a supervisor.

2. Always keep room for flexibility and changes at the last minute, especially when you have chosen to do experimental work. There will be many chances that things may not fall or work in a way that you planned at the initial stage. A lot of modification may be circumstantial.

3. Have a positive approach towards your hard work in your doctoral research. Look at it as a luxury that you have got only once in your life to work on an original idea as a scientist. Well, this is true unless you really want to start working on another PhD.

4. Become reliable for your own self. Keep your words and commitments that you make, not just to your supervisor but to your own self as well. So that your supervisor builds and sustains the trust in you, remember to communicate in advance when, at times, you cannot live up to your commitments.

5. Do not strive for perfectionism, but do strive for professionalism. It is perfect enough as long as you are dependable, careful and accurate in your work.

6. Train, develop and push yourself to pen down at every opportunity you get. I have used the word push, do it till it becomes a part of your system. It is easier to learn scientific learning. Of course, there are some who are born writers, but like most of the people who aren’t gifted writers when they start writing at every given opportunity, they do get to pick up the tricks of the skill.

7. Take up only those teaching commitments that really interest and involve you. Also ensure that they should contribute towards the course of your PhD in some way or the other.
8. Last but not the least; enjoy it as the beginning of a fabulous career and a journey that will take you to a great destination.

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