Thursday, February 21, 2019

3 Things You Should Know Before Applying for a PhD.

June 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Education, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.comIf you intend on enrolling into a PhD program, you are probably getting all sort of advice from fellow students, administrators, professors, parents, and, of course, the Internet. It’s probably also getting difficult to decide on whose advice you should focus on to make the right decision with a positive life-effect.

Before you start daydreaming again of the hour you accept a Nobel Prize, here are three things you should seriously consider. In fact, a few tips here will likely save you from experiencing anguish, and help you make a better decision on your journey to a PhD.

Actively Seek Out Information

It’s likely that there is more or less support that will help guide you in selecting the best PhD program, depending on your undergraduate institution. For instance, you might not know that your school’s career center has information on programs until you actually start applying.

This means that you don’t have to wait for the career department or center to start laying out the plan for you. Be proactive, and seek out information from your professors, career counselors and even from alumni from your department that graduated from your preferred PhD. In fact, firsthand experience is the best compared to second-hand information.

Take a Break

Before applying to a program, are you sure about the type of research you would like to do? Do you have a plan of where you’d like to be for the next five years? And, are you prepared to remain in the academic environment for a straight nine years?

Most people end up burning out or even struggling through their PhD program. A one or two-year break between your undergraduate education and PhD might be necessary for gaining perspective. Many people prefer taking a job for even five years before enrolling for their PhD.

It’s true that the longer period of time you stay out of school, the harder it will be to get back to the academic setting with lower pay and no set work hours. Since a one-year break only gives you six months before PhD applications are due, a two-year gap is ideal. This gap will help you identify life priorities as well as allow you to explore different research areas and institutions such as data science PhD schools.

The research experience out of the degree program will help focus your interests and give you a better lead on your competition when you finally apply. It will also help you determine if you’ll enjoy full-time research or if you should get into an alternative career path. For example, a career that incorporates science in business, consulting or a hybrid research job that requires non-scientific and scientific skills.

The Funds

Since the most critical thing about a PhD program is whether you are accepted or not, the cost almost becomes a technical side issue. However, money in itself, in as many ways, is almost more important than being accepted. Many students celebrate when they are accepted to a program, only to realize later that funding will not be as easy as they had initially thought – it’s best to choose a PhD course when you’ve got the funds to cover the entire study period.


Studying for your PhD introduces a whole new world of possibilities to your life, but it’s a decision you should take seriously. Before embarking on this journey, look in the mirror, the tips above and ask yourself whether this is something you really wish to do. After all, getting started for a PhD without being completely sure about the decision isn’t a good basis for the academic success you hope for.

Staff Writer; Craig Ford

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