Jump to content
  • 1
Sign in to follow this  
desertwoman

Is academia for me? (Advice needed)

Question

For the first time, I"m starting to question whether I should pursue a career in academia, and i"d appreciate advice. First, I was generally a good student, having graduated with a 3.93 GPA in interdisciplinary studies, plus I had six graduate level history credits in history (the subject I want to study in grad. school [particularly the 20th century postwar period]). I was sure that I wanted to go to grad. school and eventually pursue a Ph.D., but some experiences I had are causing me to question whether an academic career is the right path for me. While I am generally a strong student, I do not handle stress well, and this affected a crucial paper in a graduate level class I was taking as an undergrad. (in the subject I wanted to study no less). I experienced a lot of personal stress that semester, and while I ended up with an A- on the paper, it wasn't my best work. And although I earned an A in the class, the professor ignored my request for a letter of recommendation, and this has been the most painful rejection I've ever experienced. However, although my extenuating circumstances were valid, the fact is, my work was affected. So, I'm questioning how I would be able to manage the stress of a full graduate course load, teaching, research, etc. without my physical and/or mental health being affected. 

Additionally, I hate the idea of relocating and don't adjust well to change. It seems like academics must be comfortable with an itinerant lifestyle and constant change. Furthermore, I'm afraid of flying, and I know that one must travel for research/conferences (sometimes internationally) during a Ph.D. and throughout their career. At the same time, however, I'm passionate about my intended field and love research/writing (despite the setback in my last class). I also don't want to let this professor (or anyone) kill my ambitions. I do, however, want to make sure I think this through carefully. I should also mention that I"m a non-traditional student (37) and will probably be 38 by the time I start a master's program (if I"m accepted). I don't think it's ever too late to pursue one's dreams , but I do worry about the stress being more detrimental to my health in middle age. For example, even those in their 20's are stressed in grad. school, so I worry about how my health would be affected handling the stress of a Ph.D in my 40's, if I made it to that point. 

So, am I worrying too much, or does it sound like this career path isn't for me? 

Edited by desertwoman
typo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

7 answers to this question

Recommended Posts

  • 0

No one can really answer that question for you but you. It's also unclear what your specific career goal is. Do you want to be a professor? A degree is a means to an end. You want to think about what your preferred career is and then choose how to best get there. Also, you have to think about the cost-benefit analysis. There is nothing wrong with pursuing an advanced degree at any age. However, a PhD is a full time job. Do you have any savings for retirement? You also don't want to force yourself into a position where you just enter the workforce in your late 40's and have to work until you're 85 to be able to afford retirement. Do you have a spouse? How do they feel about potential relocation? If you do want to be a professor, it is a difficult job market and you often have to go where the job is. How does your spouse (if you have one) feel about this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

PsyDGrad90,

While I don't have a spouse or children, my objection to relocating is because I love the city I'm living in. (I can't  see myself living anywhere else.)  There's only one university here (two in  the state), and I know it's unrealistic to expect to stay in one location on the academic career track, which is one of the reasons I''m vacillating on it. I've also thought about the other factors you mentioned, such as facing a difficult job market in middle age etc. I guess I can only take one step at a time. I think my first goal will be to get a master's degree and then see if this is still something I want to pursue. Thank you for the response. 

Edited by desertwoman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

If you haven't already, and you feel as though your anxiety and issues with stress are causing problems in your life, have you considered reaching out to a therapist of some sort? I don't say that to be unkind at all, I just wonder if that's something that might be worth exploring. Lots of people deal with stress poorly, but it's something people absolutely CAN get better at. Some of us just need more help to do so than others, which is not a huge deal. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Based on your other posts I’m going to say you need to see a mental health professional. I know this comes off mean, but to be very blunt it seems like you are spiraling due to a distressing event with a professor you admired. It happens, we all mess up and many of us are anxious and a little bit too intense sometimes, but you borderline harassed the professor who had done nothing wrong and then reported her to the dean for no good reason. At this point you’ve done all you can do. You need to move on. Try and form relationships with other profs but make sure you’re feeling okay mental health wise first. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
On 9/8/2019 at 8:24 AM, PsyDGrad90 said:

No one can really answer that question for you but you. 

I respectfully disagree with this statement. Professional academics decide who belongs in their community. If one is not in an academic community, the questions are different.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
On 9/8/2019 at 1:10 AM, desertwoman said:

While I am generally a strong student, I do not handle stress well

Additionally, I hate the idea of relocating and don't adjust well to change.

These are important things to consider, because the experience of attending grad school is one that, for many people, involves a lot of stress, possibly relocating, and dealing with changes to one's lifestyle. If navigating those kinds of things is difficult for you, that's a totally valid feeling to have. I would encourage you to really consider what the experience of grad school might be like for you, knowing that these are things you struggle with, and whether that's a risk worth taking. As others have suggested, you may find it helpful to talk through these issues with someone who is trained in dealing with mental health issues, so that if you do decide to pursue graduate studies, you will be equipped with tools to help you manage the aforementioned emotions and experiences.

On 9/8/2019 at 1:10 AM, desertwoman said:

At the same time, however, I'm passionate about my intended field and love research/writing (despite the setback in my last class).

Keep in mind that you do not need a PhD to do these things. There are plenty of career paths that could provide you with opportunities to write and do research in your field, and that may be a better fit for you, given the struggles you have mentioned. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
On 9/8/2019 at 2:10 AM, desertwoman said:

For the first time, I"m starting to question whether I should pursue a career in academia, and i"d appreciate advice. First, I was generally a good student, having graduated with a 3.93 GPA in interdisciplinary studies, plus I had six graduate level history credits in history (the subject I want to study in grad. school [particularly the 20th century postwar period]). I was sure that I wanted to go to grad. school and eventually pursue a Ph.D., but some experiences I had are causing me to question whether an academic career is the right path for me. While I am generally a strong student, I do not handle stress well, and this affected a crucial paper in a graduate level class I was taking as an undergrad. (in the subject I wanted to study no less). I experienced a lot of personal stress that semester, and while I ended up with an A- on the paper, it wasn't my best work. And although I earned an A in the class, the professor ignored my request for a letter of recommendation, and this has been the most painful rejection I've ever experienced. However, although my extenuating circumstances were valid, the fact is, my work was affected. So, I'm questioning how I would be able to manage the stress of a full graduate course load, teaching, research, etc. without my physical and/or mental health being affected.

So, am I worrying too much, or does it sound like this career path isn't for me? 

Bluntly, part of being successful in graduate school is the ability to receive, then respond to criticism in an appropriate and useful way. I had one professor whom I thought an absolute dick, but I listened to said professor's comments and integrated the feedback given.

On a much more serious note, the academic job market for history is awful and it's not going to get any better any time soon. On that grounds alone, I wouldn't encourage it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.