Monday, June 30, 2014

Don't go there.

I would never,ever advise anyone to go into my university's PhD program. After six years of hard work, it seems that I've become a successful scientist. I've written two of my own grants which have been awarded funding and have contributed to multiple data papers and a review, not to mention having given many lectures and managing 20+ students in the lab.

However it seems that I still needed to prove myself to my committee, who pulled up an unwritten and uncommunicated rule at the last minute before my thesis was due. I revised the thesis, which I was completely willing to do despite the large amount of stress it caused me, which all of my committee members actively ignored and/or denied. I made seven additional figures and wrote about 10 more pages, but didn't have time to revise the introduction, which was the only thing my advisor read before he threatened to reject it again.

Two of my committee members had stated in multiple conversations that a thesis should merely be a showcase for work that will be turned into publications and not a separate, special holy frail unto itself. These were the two members that told me to be clear, concise and to the point. I would bet my left foot that they were also the ones who pushed for the decision for my edits to be focused almost entirely on enriching my introduction, the only part of the thesis that will not be published. They justified this in saying that it would be a resource to me in years to come. If I hadn't been so exhausted from my oral exam than I would have pointed out that they were asking me to embellish on a topic that I have little to no interest in and very well may not be part of my future after I leave this hellhole.

The most wonderful part of this final assignment is that they did not request a specific number of pages or amount of content, but a time commitment of three weeks.

I am only guaranteed pay for the next eight weeks. When I asked one of my members, who I will need for reccomendations, if it's all right to start applying for post docs, they said that I should focus on my thesis and only apply to any post docs that I REALLY want. Considering the fact that the very intelligent and qualified people I know have been taking between three to six months to find a post doc, this seems like absolute bullshit to me.

I'm tired of these games and of other people acting irresponsiblly with the most important decisions in my life. I intend to stay nearby for a post doc, to be near friends and family, since I now realize that this is what counts. I have serious doubts about persuing a career in acedemia; I had never doubted it until this time because I had always believed that my hard work would pay off in the end. No one said good job or congradtulations after my defense; only one member of my committee acknowledged that I had done a nice job on my presentation. Is the point of a PhD program to wear down, degrade, and discourage the student? Because that's how in feeling here at the end of my journey, which should be the pinnacle of my achievements thus far...but instead I'm feeling quite depressed. In addition, I had previously thought that one of the goals of PhD training was to become independent, but this month I feel like I've been treated more like a child and given more "because we said so" instructions than I have since year 1. Did I mention that my advisor declined to even let my committee read the first draft of my thesis? Even if it had been so bad that it had been rejected, then at least I would have felt like an independent adult and not an idiotic child.

But then again no one cares about helping graduate students maintain a balanced outlook or healthy mental and emotional outlook. It's a trial by fire, and they don't give a shit if you get wrecked in the inferno, just whether you make it or not. They'll deny any residual scarring as well as any accountability. It's a thrilling, backward world on acedemics, and if I had truly known then maybe I never would have set foot here.

posted from Bloggeroid

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