The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thinking It Through

Posted by Seeking Solace |

Thanks everyone for you comments about my itch to get my PhD. I am amazed at the variety of comments, pro and con.

I am inspired by those of you who have made the choice to go for it despite age and circumstance. I am esspically impressed by Nels's husband, who got his PhD. even though he is a practicing lawyer and has no desire to be an academic. He just did it becuase he wanted it. Nels also raised a good point. Why can't the degree be the end itself. Why do we have to stop striving for knowledge after the degree is earned? In the legal field, we are required to complete continuing education credits. I would often take classes in areas that I have an interest, but didn't necessarily practice, only because I was curious.

But I also see what Arbitrista stated in his comments. Do I really want to do research? I can do that without the PhD. Also, B*'s and New Kid's comments make sense. If I teach at a CC, the PhD may not be necessary. I have enough cred to teach Legal Studies and I could push the envelope with Criminal Justice. And of course, I can teach at the Law School level, although as I have found out, those positions are super competitive. (That doesn't mean that I wouldn't get hired...I just saying.)

The other issue that I forgot to add was that I still have this desire to write. I have ideas that are just jumbled thoughts in a doc file on my computer, but they could turn into publishable research. One is researching case law with respect to invisible illnesses like RA and the Americans with Disabilities Act. I have first-hand experience with that! Also, I think it's an important legal issue. (Hey New Kid, maybe I could have you help me with case research!!!!) If I go for a PhD, I would have to put those ideas aside.

Well, I am still thinking. But keep those comments coming. It helps!


rented life said...

You're talked about writing for as long as i've know you. Going back to school might give you the time you need to actually do that, unlike teaching. You'll be encouraged to have your own ideas for projects and papers and proposals and most profs expect you to turn those into something. So a classroom will give you the structured time to pursue some of this, I think.

I think it's going to get harder and harder to not have a PhD if you want to stay teaching. Sure it was easy for me to get into CC but being able to teach anywhere else, even if I have a different doctorate degree, it doesn't fly. I saw this because it's something I've look into too. We all say not to go if you don't know if you want it, but it's also a matter of how easy you want your job search. Can you do it without one? Yes. Is it much harder? You know that.

Psycgirl said...

At the stage I am at in my life, I would be concerned about getting a PhD that might not lead to job prospects.

That being said, I am an academic at heart, and even if I had a happy life and career, I could completely see myself getting another PhD in my 40s, just because I could even if I would never use it. I'm sure chances are that I will consider it when I get to that stage in my life.

However, I would probably try to do it part-time while working, I don't know if I would give up a current career (if I had one!) for a new PhD

Addy N. said...

I would start investigating what potential programs you might apply to. If you are not necessarily planning on a career in academia, you would want to be in a programs that doesn't necessarily push that. Also, considering your upcoming move, are there PhD programs in the area that might fit your needs? Just more things to think about! :)

BrightStar (B*) said...

I think one way to think about it is go into a PhD program that would allow you to explore these ideas that you are itching to write about. Combine your writing interests with your academic goals, and you'll be productive all around! (So, I'm agreeing with Rented Life here...)

Maybe it's just me, but I'm someone who would not get a PhD just to do it. I feel like I will be learning throughout my whole life, but the PhD experience itself was too intense and difficult to do just for the sake of it. So, if you can see that it will lead to something for you that allow you to do what you want to do, such as make you more qualified for these sorts of jobs that you want, then I think it would be more worth it, from my perspective. So, I also agree with Addy N -- if there are certain sorts of jobs that you want in the future, then investigate whether the faculty are able to support you to become who you want to become -- to make you the best possible candidate!

RageyOne said...

I think you should start the writing process at the present (or perhaps really get to it when you all get settled after the move) I bet you have some good stuff, especially with RA and legal issues.

Also, I don't see you having to put those ideas aside if you pursue the PhD. Perhaps those topics could play a part in your overall research and subsequent dissertation (should you decide to pursue that option).

Nels said...

Your point about writing reminded me that one reason Da Man is going for a PhD is because he knew the classes and exams and dissertation would force him to read things he would never read on his own. For example, he is now going to write his dissertation on how European political philosophies of the 17th and 18th centuries influence the development of the Constitution, and he never, ever would have even read those theories if he hadn't been required to do so in a class.

Of course, you could just google random syllabi and read what's on them to have the same effect. But the hoop-jumping of the PhD was something he thought would benefit him (since he saw it benefit me).

Nels said...

I should also add that there is a running joke in our house that we don't have children, we have college degrees. We each have three post-graduate degrees, and when he gets the PhD, it'll be his fourth. And I'm thinking of an MFA or MPH or something like that. We both have really, really enjoyed our various graduate and professional school experiences and are always looking for more. So we have our own attitudes about this that might be more individualistic to us.

Mad Hatter said...

I don't think age should be an impediment--I once met a first-year PhD student in biology at a conference who was at least 65 years old. In her subfield, it would take easily 10 years minimum to get to the asst. prof. stage, so she wasn't doing it for career purposes...she just loved the challenge of learning something new.

Having said that, I don't think I would start a PhD now (I'm 34) just to experience the challenge of learning new things unless there were no other way get that. At least in my field, grad school is one of those all-consuming, "work 80 hours a week and spend the remaining hours thinking about work" type of experiences. And I think I'm past the point in my life where I want to devote myself completely to my studies. I simply have too many other responsibilities and interests.

If getting a PhD would help me get the kind of positions I want, then I might go for it. If not, I'd probably take classes in things that interest me instead of doing an entire PhD program.

Just my two cents.