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orphic_mel528

Reactions to PhD Study

53 posts in this topic

Just curious: What have the reactions been from family/friends/whoever regarding your PhD plans?

About an hour ago, I told a friend I was starting my PhD this fall, and he made a wisecrack: "Putting off non-academia and a real job for a few more years? Good idea."

First off, I was shocked he would say this, even jokingly. He's known me since I was 15, therefore he knows I've been working since I was 15. I worked full-time through the entirety of my undergraduate and graduate education. I had three jobs during the latter, actually: one full-time and two part-time. I haven't been unemployed more than a month in my adult life. I had a career in a different field for a decade. So it was super bizarre and insulting to think about the possibility that he was making some kind of crack about my work ethic. 

Second: Why is it that no one seems to understand that most people are working while doing their PhDs? Teaching undergraduates isn't considered a job, orrrrr? Because that's what I'm doing now, and I get a paycheck...that's what having a job is, right? Or am I confused?

A close family member reacted to my plans as follows:

"Why would you want to do that? Who's going to pay for that?"

After I explained why I want to do that, I also explained that only a small number of applicants are accepted and are given jobs/stipends to pay for their studies.

"Why would they do that for people who want to read books?"

http://gph.is/1sCcMr3

 

Edited by orphic_mel528

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@orphic_mel528, I'm out of reputation, but I wanted to say how sorry I am that someone you've known for so long would take that kind of tact. So often it seems to me that people on the outside of academic work have a set of responses, as though they're reading directly from a script, when talking about the academy, no matter the circumstances. It's rather bizarre, to me, that there is such a widespread assumption that academic work isn't or can't be real work, even as more and more people go to college and press their own children likewise to go to college, something that would be impossible were it not for those willing to get PhDs. The current higher educational system relies on people getting PhDs, and yet somehow it is shameful to do so? It's something I certainly don't understand.

 

On the other hand, my father--a high school dropout who's worked with his hands his entire life (although he also does IT work sans degree)--remains completely baffled that he doesn't have to come up with money to put me through a PhD program. I've tried explaining several times that I only really applied to programs that would waive tuition and give me a stipend, but he remains worried about the debt he believes I will certainly accrue. People's assumptions re: academia are really strange.

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Sorry about your friend, Mel... It was a jerk thing to say, but it was probably borne more of obliviousness than ill-intent. At least I hope.

As for your main question, people have generally been pretty supportive of me in this. I'm not going to get too much into personal details, but I sort of beat a lot of odds to get here -- not the same kind of stacked-against-you odds that some others have, to be sure, but I grew up in a family that put almost no value on education, and had a father that might be considered "anti-intellectual." I'm essentially the first person in my family to get a college degree...and as I've mentioned elsewhere, I didn't even start on an A.A. until I was 32. I got a couple of vocational degrees in my 20s, and was essentially an autodidact when it came to reading and writing poetry, and reading and analyzing literature.

I only mention this background to illustrate that I'm rather surprised that most of the reaction to me going down the Ph.D. path has been positive. My parents couldn't be prouder, my friends are all happy for me (outwardly, at least), and even my ex-wife, who split with me last year in part because of our different positions in life, is also extremely proud of my accomplishments. It has felt really good, of course, even though I have this odd tendency to enjoy the recognition of my accomplishments while shying away from actual praise.

Honestly, the people who have discouraged me from this path the most are other academics...but in each instance, it has seemed to be more out of concern for the state of the industry than my lack of ability to succeed within it.

I do get very annoyed at how many people don't get what's involved in going for a Ph.D. You can't blame them, per se, and yet many seem to have this smug (yet often tacit) assumption that we're just spending a few years reading books and writing self-serving essays about literature that will only be read by others in a somewhat incestuous community.

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12 minutes ago, Wyatt's Terps said:

I do get very annoyed at how many people don't get what's involved in going for a Ph.D. You can't blame them, per se, and yet many seem to have this smug (yet often tacit) assumption that we're just spending a few years reading books and writing self-serving essays about literature that will only be read by others in a somewhat incestuous community.

I am fortunate to have not had to deal with large strokes of anti-intellectualism from my family and relatives. In general, everyone was supportive, although for the longest time my father and maternal grandfather wanted me to switch from the humanities to the hard sciences because they were the only degrees of "value."

Although my siblings and parents all have finished undergrad, there definitely is a disconnect between what is expected in undergrad vs. grad school. This is where Wyatt's remarks are particularly apt because I have definitely encountered the same reaction on at least one occasion. After I accepted my offer for a PhD program, my dad often told people, "They are paying me to read a book." I wish it was that simple, and it can be passed off as a joke. The problem was he repeated it so many times in front of me it took on a mixed sense of snide remark/humor/not knowing what grad school entails.

My professors definitely did warn me of the state of the academic market. At the same time, they were the most supportive and motivating people when I applied.

 

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Oh my gosh. This is so similar to my situation. My friends have been largely supportive, but that's mostly because I didn't really have friends until grad school (and those two that stuck around from before have always been there, have graduate degrees as well, and are always supportive and understanding of what I want to do). That's beside the point, though. 

My family has known since I first decided (nearly five years ago now) that I wanted to get a PhD, yet, when app time rolled around, I got three distinct talkings to from my mother. Keep in mind that I've been married and out of the house for nearly five years. The first one came five days before my lit subject, in which she asked me if I was doing this "for me, or to impress other people." Lol, like anyone would just put themselves through the wringer that is a PhD program just for someone else. The next one was, I don't think coincidentally, a couple of days before I retook my GRE general, and I was asked what was wrong with taking a few years off, having kids, then going to the school 1.5 hours away part-time "like so many people do" (really? Who that you know, mom?). There have been guilt trips of both the child-bearing(my partner is a few years older than me, so family planning is always on the mind for both of us, and her too, apparently) and "if you move away, you'll kill your family" variety. I've also been asked what's so bad about being an adjunct (what I'm doing now). I've explained that even though I'm working 40+ hours per week, I get paid less than $5/hr and don't get any benefits and that the courses I teach now could just vanish next semester, but I'm not sure she believes me. The whole thing has gotten worse since I started getting accepted to programs and the reality of what's happening is setting in. 

The major problem is that my BA was always encouraged but seen as a "backup plan" in case I, as a future stay at home mom, would need a degree to "fall back on" in a job search. Neither of my parents have degrees, and neither did their parents - I'm the first. So when I broke the mold and went for the MA, she passed it off as a hobby, I think. She doesn't understand that this is a job, this is a path to a job, and hopefully will lead to a stable future for my family (if all things pan out and I actually get tenured). It's more than just a passion for me, but for her, it is just a whim, a thing I'm using to defer having kids (I'm 23 for pete's sake), to impress other people. 

I don't really have an answer for how to deal with this, beyond just trying to explain in plain language what I'm doing in the best way I can. And I'm just going to have to figure out a way to deal with the inevitable emotional consequences of doing something that deviates from her plan for my life. Therapy is helping, but I'm not looking forward to dropping the news that I'm likely headed to California in 6 months.

 

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I've been lucky I guess, everyone I have talked with has been incredibly encouraging. During the application process I definitely ran into people not really understanding how difficult the process is and how low the odds of success are, which can be frustrating to an extent. "Oh, you're smart! You'll get in, don't even worry." And I'm like, no. It doesn't work like that at this stage, said while stifling panic attacks. I do have a few friends applying in different areas though, so we've commiserated over the stress. But everyone's been really supportive otherwise, especially once I received my acceptances. Once I told friends they were all very excited, promising to take me out for drinks to celebrate—all my close friends know its been my dream for ages. I'm lucky that my immediate family have always placed a huge value on education and reading especially, so they're a huge part of the reason I have the passion that I do for literature in the first place. My mom said she cried for like thirty minutes when I told her I had gotten into Notre Dame haha, she knew how much it meant to me, she might've been even more nervous than I was. I definitely am very grateful to have the support system I do, they all mean a lot to me. 

I'm so sorry to hear about some of the negative or frustrating responses others have received! That's part of what makes a forum like this so nice, isn't it? It's great to have a place where people understand and are there to support each other and celebrate all the hard work everyone has put into following their passion! And the fact you've stayed dedicated to pursuing your passions in the face of doubt and outright opposition is really inspiring! That kind of internal-motivation and confidence is amazing. I'm definitely proud of you guys anyways! :) 

 

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Most of my friends / family don't really get it, but as soon as I mention the funding they very visibly perk up in a way that's almost a little off-putting. It's a silly thing to complain about, and I'm really not complaining (because I feel very lucky to have few reactions so rude as yours, Mel), but geez, do other people not pursue things simply because they care about them?

I think I also might be coming from a different POV though. I'm a first generation college student graduating a year early. So I'm 20, and I don't think that most of my friends / family are really taking this seriously, and most of them don't have any interest in academia at all. I think that most of them view it as a way to postpone the real world too.

The most frustrating question I get is usually about my personal life, and how I'm ever going to "meet a nice boy and have babies" if I'm in school for 6+ more years (and I'm 20!). So @imogenshakes, I feel your pain too. Oi. 

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3 minutes ago, la_mod said:

Most of my friends / family don't really get it, but as soon as I mention the funding they very visibly perk up in a way that's almost a little off-putting. It's a silly thing to complain about, and I'm really not complaining (because I feel very lucky to have few reactions so rude as yours, Mel), but geez, do other people not pursue things simply because they care about them?

I think I also might be coming from a different POV though. I'm a first generation college student graduating a year early. So I'm 20, and I don't think that most of my friends / family are really taking this seriously, and most of them don't have any interest in academia at all. I think that most of them view it as a way to postpone the real world too.

The most frustrating question I get is usually about my personal life, and how I'm ever going to "meet a nice boy and have babies" if I'm in school for 6+ more years (and I'm 20!). So @imogenshakes, I feel your pain too. Oi. 

I'm super glad to see that people have had positive responses. I have, too, but when people make negative or mocking comments...

I think many of us women here have been on the receiving end of a lot of weird talk like the kind you and @imogenshakes have mentioned. Always the baby thing! And heaven forbid you say you don't want children, or aren't sure. That is, after all, the downfall of society: women in the workplace instead of at home. Yep. We did it, ladies; we destroyed the world!

It's interesting to see how many of us come from backgrounds in which education was either devalued or in which we're the first in our immediate families to get advanced degrees. As @Wyatt's Terps pretty much said, one shouldn't mistake ignorance for malice, but the comments that come after the explanation is given can't really be chalked up to much that's positive. 

Undervaluing people in the arts and humanities is a point of total mystification for me. Yes, congratulations, you're an engineer--who wrote your book? Oh, your engineer professor wrote your book? Who edited it? Who published it? And by the way, who taught you to write? Who taught your professor to write? Who wrote the textbooks you've been using since you were 5? Who writes the stories for the games you play, the newspapers you read, the movies you watch? Who develops the curriculum that is the backbone of standardized education, which is the only reason you get to sneer at me from your engineering job instead of from the ditch you're digging? 

Is the underlying suggestion here that we should all return to life wherein the only entertainment is super-rigid liturgy, and the rest of our time is spent in drudgery for capital gain until we die at age 35? 

Because I sort of thought that the greatness of the Renaissance era was, in part, the ushering of an age wherein people were making art and pursuing knowledge for the sake of [drumroll] art and knowledge. Most people think that was a pretty great path to trot down.

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6 minutes ago, orphic_mel528 said:

 

I think many of us women here have been on the receiving end of a lot of weird talk like the kind you and @imogenshakes have mentioned. Always the baby thing! And heaven forbid you say you don't want children, or aren't sure. That is, after all, the downfall of society: women in the workplace instead of at home. Yep. We did it, ladies; we destroyed the world!

Honestly, this mentality blows my mind. I've heard it in this thread, heard it in other threads, heard it in PMs with other GCers... Its prevalence astounds and angers me. Why is there this underlying assumption among many people that A.) women have to be baby factories, and B.) that getting a Ph.D. definitively means you will never, ever, not ever have children? It's like they think that using your brain too much will dry out your ovaries. My heart really goes out to all of you who have to put up with that extra layer of resistance, and have to deal with the fallout of guilt-trips and other unpleasantness.

Because I sort of thought that the greatness of the Renaissance era was, in part, the ushering of an age wherein people were making art and pursuing knowledge for the sake of [drumroll] 

art and knowledge.



Amen. Spoken like a true early modernist. Art and knowledge indeed!

And turkey legs. Can't forget those large, delicious, roasted turkey legs.

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38 minutes ago, Wyatt's Terps said:

 It's like they think that using your brain too much will dry out your ovaries.

Ha! Too apt — I recently discussed this passage from the Gilbert and Gubar chapter "Infection in the Sentence" with my Women's Writing class:

"...As the Romantic poets feared, too much imagination may be dangerous to anyone, male or female, but for women in particular patriarchal culture has always assumed mental exercises would have dire consequences. ... And as Wendy Martin has noted

in the nineteenth century this fear of the intellectual woman became so intense that the phenomenon ... was recorded in medical annals. A thinking woman was considered such a breach of nature that a Harvard doctor reported during his autopsy on a Radcliffe graduate he discovered that her uterus had shrivelled to the size of a pea. [18]"

So, literally, yes, that seems to be the underlying rationale.

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38 minutes ago, orphic_mel528 said:

I'm super glad to see that people have had positive responses. I have, too, but when people make negative or mocking comments...

I think many of us women here have been on the receiving end of a lot of weird talk like the kind you and @imogenshakes have mentioned. Always the baby thing! And heaven forbid you say you don't want children, or aren't sure. That is, after all, the downfall of society: women in the workplace instead of at home. Yep. We did it, ladies; we destroyed the world!

It's interesting to see how many of us come from backgrounds in which education was either devalued or in which we're the first in our immediate families to get advanced degrees. As @Wyatt's Terps pretty much said, one shouldn't mistake ignorance for malice, but the comments that come after the explanation is given can't really be chalked up to much that's positive. 

Undervaluing people in the arts and humanities is a point of total mystification for me. Yes, congratulations, you're an engineer--who wrote your book? Oh, your engineer professor wrote your book? Who edited it? Who published it? And by the way, who taught you to write? Who taught your professor to write? Who wrote the textbooks you've been using since you were 5? Who writes the stories for the games you play, the newspapers you read, the movies you watch? Who develops the curriculum that is the backbone of standardized education, which is the only reason you get to sneer at me from your engineering job instead of from the ditch you're digging? 

Is the underlying suggestion here that we should all return to life wherein the only entertainment is super-rigid liturgy, and the rest of our time is spent in drudgery for capital gain until we die at age 35? 

Because I sort of thought that the greatness of the Renaissance era was, in part, the ushering of an age wherein people were making art and pursuing knowledge for the sake of [drumroll] art and knowledge. Most people think that was a pretty great path to trot down.

I think about this all the time. The world would be lost without writers, readers, critical thinkers, in a REAL and tangible way. I don't know what on earth deemed engineers (and others) to be the gods of the academy and thus allowed them to look down their noses at us. The world doesn't go 'round if half of it's missing, folks. Let us trot down that road with enthusiasm! We can create our own Renaissance of sorts.

29 minutes ago, Wyatt's Terps said:

Honestly, this mentality blows my mind. I've heard it in this thread, heard it in other threads, heard it in PMs with other GCers... Its prevalence astounds and angers me. Why is there this underlying assumption among many people that A.) women have to be baby factories, and B.) that getting a Ph.D. definitively means you will never, ever, not ever have children? It's like they think that using your brain too much will dry out your ovaries. My heart really goes out to all of you who have to put up with that extra layer of resistance, and have to deal with the fallout of guilt-trips and other unpleasantness.

I'm quite grateful that you say this, WT. It's a difficult thing. I struggle with it more than I should, I think, because I have one foot in a conservative Christian world and one in a liberal academic world. The members of the former ask me nearly every Sunday when it's time for us to make babies for them to hold, and I know my reaction is defensive and probably rude, but I can't help myself. Like, since when is my body and my private decision with my partner subject to everyone else's input? I don't know in what world people REALLY think this is ok and don't have some kind of check when they make such a comment.

And of course, on the same hand, two of my advisors (tenured faculty) are incredibly successful academic women with families. One had two toddlers and raised them as a single mom while she was getting her PhD. The two are certainly not mutually exclusive, so I don't know if it's because academia is still considered to be a "masculine" profession or what, but maybe that's what perpetuates this ignorant idea that professors can't also be moms. Who knows. 

Also, of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you if you decide not to have kids. So I won't ever understand that, either. Women are human, women should be able to choose how they live their lives. End of story. 

Basically, I just want ignorant people to leave me alone. Haha I have a lot of pent up anger about this, sorry guys. //rant

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Not to make this too political, but I definitely must say that the attitude my relatives have towards humanities professors is markedly different than engineers and scientists. This is particularly frustrating, because literature and history professors are broadly painted as these die hard Marxists running around burning the pillars of society and dousing tar on conservative children. 

My family and relatives may be supportive of the PhD, but the amount of times I have had to defend professors from unwarranted political attacks from those close to me is downright obnoxious. I used to be very conservative before university, but my movement towards the center and moderation of my opinion has been a benefit not a detriment from attending a state flagship. However, I have received constant warnings from my grandparents to watch out for those communists. Then I took a class with a professor who was an avowed Marxist. She mentioned it every once in a while, but she was a fair grader and taught American labor and social history. My entire department (small national foreign lang/lit) was filled with socialists and green party activists, and my research interests dealt with, God forbid, religion in literature. Every professor I had helped me refine my research and scholarship, not an ounce of disgust or apathy over my research. Yet as soon as I walked in the door during a break, you better believe I heard every tirade imaginable about those crooked academics living in their ivory towers. /end rant

Oh, and I give my condolences to any of you have to deal with the gender problems of a PhD. It is an accomplishment in receiving admission, and the stress is already high enough without the added comments about children and a 'woman's place' *shudders*. I am flabbergasted when people reward the woman who put off marriage until her late 20s or early 30s and soared the ranks of career, yet they pity the woman who chooses to pursue a PhD or academia. Somehow the one attaining financial success is acceptable, but putting off marriage and childbearing for any other reason is monstrous.

Edited by KingNikolai1

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My family doesn't seem to really grasp the concept. My father went to grad school for career reasons and didn't really have the "spirit of learning" that I do. They also think I'm going to English, but that's what most people think. When I correct that I am going for comparative literature, I can tell from their expression that they aren't committing that information to memory. Oh well. 

The university I go to is essentially a pipeline for academics and professional students, so it's not bizarre for me to go on to get a PhD. Nevertheless, I seem to be one of the only students I'm aware of to go straight through from undergrad to PhD. 

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@KingNikolai1 my dad is the same. I'm the monstrous "liberal" (more of a socialist I think, but okay--) going to the communist, American-hating school that is the Sorbonne ahahaha. Brain washers they are, even! I do also get insulted once in a while for wanting to be that educated, he feels very threatened by it! Only reinforces my plans, Sir :lol: 

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Ha ha! It's such a coincidence for you to use an engineering example @orphic_mel528. I just got done talking to a friend from my undergrad (She's finishing up her last semester) on the phone. She was saying how much she loves the people in the town. Apparently she ran into an older veteran man who saw the school shirt she was wearing and during their conversation he asked about what she was majoring in. She said Education, she wants to teach young kids. His answer, she said, made her smile, "We engineers may build the world, but teachers build the minds that build the world." You might be right. I think the work that teachers, professors, deal in is just not in the visible realm---unless we write books or articles. Our real work is in the minds we build and the ideas we create. Those things aren't as tangible as engineering but they aren't any less either. Both professions are equally important to society, they just work in different ways and with different results. But because our results occur more intrinsically and in the ether, it's hard for people to see the work we've done unless they are the actual benefactor of it. I'd be willing to bet that every person who doesn't see the significance of academia and wanting to be a professor has a teacher in the past that they have fond memories of, who taught them something they continue to use and reflect on. That's our significance.

As to the question you've presented us with: Just curious: What have the reactions been from family/friends/whoever regarding your PhD plans?

I can echo what most people have already said. No one in my immediate family earned a college degree, maybe they went to college a bit, but dropped out. That's mostly because I come from a fairly rural community and it's difficult for anyone from our area to be successful in college. When I shipped out to go to college I was given a hard time because I had a very distinct accent, I would have to go home on the weekends to help my family back at home (we have a fairly large ranch), and I was more conservative than my peers. If my life as a college student was anything like the family members preceding me, I can understand why they quit it. I was made to feel shame about my accent, where I was from, and my personal philosophies. What I quickly discovered on that latter part was that I'd merely only been exposed to certain ideas and philosophies, but, conversely, my peers were criticizing my limited understanding with their own limited understanding. (I think in psychology they have a term for the fact that opposing groups usually have mirrored thoughts on each other.) Maybe that's why I got so into my studies, for a greater understanding of the world around me.

Anyway, back to the point. I got my BA and my family was really proud of me--but I'd already told them I'd applied to MA programs and wanted to keep going. They were upset about that point. They wanted me to get a job, support myself, in all honesty they were just worried about my well-being. I remember at one point my grandfather jerked his finger at me and said: "You knew when you picked that 'English' major that you'd have to do this!" He felt like I'd been deceitful. After that came the, "We aren't going to be able to help you with more school. We've helped you out all through your bachelors. If you want to do this, you're on your own." So they thought they'd effectively derailed any of my plans and hamstrung me into teaching high school English. Until I showed them that I'd been accepted into MA programs with funding, tuition waivers, stipends, teaching experience, the whole sha-bang. That same grandfather offered to go with me to visit a school I was interested in and I think he had an experience he'd never forget, he got to meet the dean of the Liberal Arts department at that school. We got to talk to the dean because, for some reason, no professor from the English department could be bothered to show up for the recruitment day. I didn't end up going to that school (see above comment about no English professor bothering to show up), but since that point him and the rest of my family have been supportive.

As far as PhD stuff goes, by now my family is supportive. My mother and father are supportive and, I think, proud of me. My grandparents are also supportive. My grandmother thinks I'm wasting my time, I should be getting married and having children, and she still doesn't understand how "funding" works or what it means. My grandfather, on the other hand, has surprised me. He's turned around. He told me: "You don't need to worry about marriage. You'll get there. A career is more important than a woman, trust me." Which, maybe there's some chauvinism there but it's coming from a really caring place and I appreciate that---it also helped me because where I'm from I'm one of the only men who are not married or about to be married. So that's been nice. They are excited I got into a PhD program. The thing I'm most annoyed with is the pressure to go to Texas A&M because it's closer to them. They are also convinced that if I move somewhere up north where it snows I'm going to get into a car accident and die. They're just convinced of that.

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Nothing to add but to say that that's a lovely and inspiring story, @Silabus, and I'm really glad you shared. Kudos!

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34 minutes ago, Wyatt's Terps said:

Nothing to add but to say that that's a lovely and inspiring story, @Silabus, and I'm really glad you shared. Kudos!

Here, here! Or, hear, hear!

Edited by orphic_mel528

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37 minutes ago, Silabus said:

They are also convinced that if I move somewhere up north where it snows I'm going to get into a car accident and die. They're just convinced of that.

The day I was accepted to BC and called my mom, she started telling me about a documentary she watched on a cult in England where all these young people ended up giving up modern day life and basically living in a basement with no contact with the outside world. Then she was like, 'and they were all so smart and going to Oxford and those places', and then she proceeded to warn me not to join a cult as if being a grad student will make me more susceptible to cult-joining. Parents are so bizarre.

Unrelated to academia, a friend of mine has a colleague from Israel. When she got her job in Ireland, her mother was like 'You can't go there? There are terrorists! You'll die!'

My parents also do this thing where every few weeks they'll ask me how long my PhD will take, and I reply 5-6 years as always, and they act all shocked and horrified as if this is the first they're hearing this. Over Christmas my mother even said 'You told me it was two years!' I have never told her that. Then they'll talk about my uncle's ex-girlfriend that got a philosophy PhD and that they remember it only took her like 3 years. I'm not sure what they expect, that I'll call the DGS at Notre Dame and tell her I'll need to be getting my PhD in 2-3 years because my uncle's ex got her philosophy doctorate in that time in England in the 80s?

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@Caien 

That's hilarious! Joining a cult! Everyone has crazy parents then. Ha ha!

Oh that's funny too! Well in the UK they do have shorter timespans to get degrees. I looked into it once upon a time. US degrees take a longer time. And you know, now that you mention it, I remember telling my family briefly that PhD's take about 5 years or more and they were shocked. "That's a long time!" I just tried explaining to them that it was like having a career already, I was just also in training simultaneously. I think for people who aren't really in academia, the whole system is bizarre and confusing.

You're lucky your family isn't like my friend's family. Her mother used to call the school, call the president of the university, and make demands. I remember at the end of her undergrad she said: "The admins all glare me down! It's all my mom's fault!" It was too funny.

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15 minutes ago, orphic_mel528 said:

Here, here! Or, hear, hear!

Definitely the latter! :P

9 minutes ago, Caien said:

The day I was accepted to BC and called my mom, she started telling me about a documentary she watched on a cult in England where all these young people ended up giving up modern day life and basically living in a basement with no contact with the outside world. Then she was like, 'and they were all so smart and going to Oxford and those places', and then she proceeded to warn me not to join a cult as if being a grad student will make me more susceptible to cult-joining. Parents are so bizarre.

Unrelated to academia, a friend of mine has a colleague from Israel. When she got her job in Ireland, her mother was like 'You can't go there? There are terrorists! You'll die!'

My parents also do this thing where every few weeks they'll ask me how long my PhD will take, and I reply 5-6 years as always, and they act all shocked and horrified as if this is the first they're hearing this. Over Christmas my mother even said 'You told me it was two years!' I have never told her that. Then they'll talk about my uncle's ex-girlfriend that got a philosophy PhD and that they remember it only took her like 3 years. I'm not sure what they expect, that I'll call the DGS at Notre Dame and tell her I'll need to be getting my PhD in 2-3 years because my uncle's ex got her philosophy doctorate in that time in England in the 80s?

252890.jpg

One for each of those paragraphs. Sheesh...

Edited by Wyatt's Terps

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3 minutes ago, Caien said:

The day I was accepted to BC and called my mom, she started telling me about a documentary she watched on a cult in England where all these young people ended up giving up modern day life and basically living in a basement with no contact with the outside world. Then she was like, 'and they were all so smart and going to Oxford and those places', and then she proceeded to warn me not to join a cult as if being a grad student will make me more susceptible to cult-joining. Parents are so bizarre.

Unrelated to academia, a friend of mine has a colleague from Israel. When she got her job in Ireland, her mother was like 'You can't go there? There are terrorists! You'll die!'

My parents also do this thing where every few weeks they'll ask me how long my PhD will take, and I reply 5-6 years as always, and they act all shocked and horrified as if this is the first they're hearing this. Over Christmas my mother even said 'You told me it was two years!' I have never told her that. Then they'll talk about my uncle's ex-girlfriend that got a philosophy PhD and that they remember it only took her like 3 years. I'm not sure what they expect, that I'll call the DGS at Notre Dame and tell her I'll need to be getting my PhD in 2-3 years because my uncle's ex got her philosophy doctorate in that time in England in the 80s?

Your parents actually sound funny :lol: Parents can indeed be so weird!!

My mom always had this thing for telling me "you should go to the States, universities are so good there, it's now or never blah blah" and then every time I wanted to go and I needed help figuring stuff out, she would say how complicated it is to go to school and funding and stuff :lol: And then I would get angry, and once again later when she would do the same thing of asking me why I didn't want to leave!!! Aaaaaaaa!!!

Anyway--when I was going to move to Paris, she told me several times that everybody she knew who had been to Paris hated it and came back. Then it hit me and I replied: So, those who loved it and stayed aren't there to tell you they like it, right? :D "I was hoping you wouldn't figure that out!" Took me some time...

I guess the message is: they're always worried about everything and doubt everything too much, like any philosopher has to do. Our role in this is to try and stay calm in the face of contradiction and irrationality! 

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2 minutes ago, Silabus said:

Oh that's funny too! Well in the UK they do have shorter timespans to get degrees. I looked into it once upon a time. US degrees take a longer time. And you know, now that you mention it, I remember telling my family briefly that PhD's take about 5 years or more and they were shocked. "That's a long time!" I just tried explaining to them that it was like having a career already, I was just also in training simultaneously. I think for people who aren't really in academia, the whole system is bizarre and confusing.

True, but its mandatory to have a masters first before going on to a humanities PhD in the British system. So really the absolute minimum is four years, but most people will take longer by taking an extra year to finish their thesis, doing a two year masters, or just taking a break between their masters and PhD. Over here we also don't get much teaching experience. For the most part it amounts to leading some tutorial sessions, and many students won't teach at all until they get their first job. Personally I think its worth taking the extra year or two in the US to get that extra experience.

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11 minutes ago, Yanaka said:

Your parents actually sound funny :lol: Parents can indeed be so weird!!

My mom always had this thing for telling me "you should go to the States, universities are so good there, it's now or never blah blah" and then every time I wanted to go and I needed help figuring stuff out, she would say how complicated it is to go to school and funding and stuff :lol: And then I would get angry, and once again later when she would do the same thing of asking me why I didn't want to leave!!! Aaaaaaaa!!!

Anyway--when I was going to move to Paris, she told me several times that everybody she knew who had been to Paris hated it and came back. Then it hit me and I replied: So, those who loved it and stayed aren't there to tell you they like it, right? :D "I was hoping you wouldn't figure that out!" Took me some time...

I guess the message is: they're always worried about everything and doubt everything too much, like any philosopher has to do. Our role in this is to try and stay calm in the face of contradiction and irrationality! 

They are indeed hilarious. And infuriating. My mother also didn't want me to go to Amsterdam to get an MA in case I ended up becoming a prostitute. It defies logic.

I do think you're right that at the root of it is just worry and concern. My mother always wanted me to emigrate (I'm from a very rural part of Ireland), she wanted me to see the world and travel like she never did. But she couldn't wait for me to move back from Japan, and I think its only hitting her now that 5 years in the US is a long time, and I may never come back at all...

Edit: I forgot to mention that my father simply cannot get his head around the Doctorate of Philosophy part. When he asked me what PhD stood for,  first we hit a bit of a stumbling block until I realised he didn't know philosophy was spelled with a 'ph' (my father is hard working and good at his job, but not what you would call book smart). Now he just keeps going, 'But you're studying English, not philosophy...'

Edited by Caien

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1 minute ago, Caien said:

They are indeed hilarious. And infuriating. My mother also didn't want me to go to Amsterdam to get an MA in case I ended up becoming a prostitute. It defies logic.

I do think you're right that at the root of it is just worry and concern. My mother always wanted me to emigrate (I'm from a very rural part of Ireland), she wanted me to see the world and travel like she never did. But she couldn't wait for me to move back from Japan, and I think its only hitting her now that 5 years in the US is a long time, and I may never come back at all...

My mom is kindling with the idea that if I really move and stay in the US, she'll sell her house and follow me. Adorable B)

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2 minutes ago, Yanaka said:

My mom is kindling with the idea that if I really move and stay in the US, she'll sell her house and follow me. Adorable B)

Haha, aw! My mom wanted me to go to California so she could visit me and go to the beach! (She is not impressed with this whole Indiana business...)

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