A few weeks ago, I went to see a colleague of sorts defend her dissertation. Her topic was interesting & I had answered some stats related questions for her when she got to analyzing her data. She made it look easy, but I could tell just how much work had gone into the research and presentation. When it was all over, she breathed a big sigh of relief & we all had refreshments & congratulated her.
Ever since then, though, I’ve been feeling the tug of going back to school for my PhD. Unlike other major life decisions I’ve made, I’m thinking about this. A lot. Last week, I met with the admissions guy at my most recent alma mater to find out what I might need to do should I decide to go back. There are points strongly in my favor – such as I’m a recent grad from the program, I wouldn’t need funded as I have tuition remission, and my grades were pretty good while I was in school. I also have a good portion of the coursework completed, so I’d probably only have 2 years worth of classes to take (part time, yo), then the dissertation hours.
Where it gets iffy: right now, there’s nobody doing research in the area of Epidemiology I’m interested in at the school.* They’re hiring (or have hired) a ton of new faculty, so maybe there’s someone coming in that I could work with. I would really need to figure out what kind of dissertation I’d like to work on & find someone who would be willing to be my mentor before I could even really consider going back again. Coincidentally, trying to find someone to work with for a dissertation is partially what kept me from a PhD in psychology – my interests were only represented by a handful of faculty members and their programs were VERY competitive. As I’m not good at cold introductions & it takes me a bit to be comfortable talking to people I haven’t met with before, I was at a disadvantage there.
I don’t know which way I’ll go right now. Part of me really wants to do this, but part of me also wants to be a lazy bum when I’m not working. One of my coworkers did say that the years are going to pass whether I do it or not & wouldn’t it be nice to have a PhD after those years have passed? It would, but I have time to figure out if it’s really worth it in the end. I still have a lot of time to think and make decisions – if I do it, we’re looking at a Fall 2012 start, which means I don’t even need to worry about talking to people about research until September & then get my application materials in by February. And if it turns out that there isn’t someone doing research in an area I’m interested in, then my decision is made. In the meantime, I can go about my business of going to the gym, knitting, and being lazy.
Yes, I am a little bit crazy for even thinking about this at the moment, but even during my undergraduate days, I always wanted to get my PhD. I think I can have a fairly satisfying career with my master’s degrees, but maybe even more so with the PhD.
*I’m really interested in Social Epidemiology, as I may have mentioned before. It’s that intersection between the Social Psychology I love and the newer career path I’ve chosen.