PhD: reader comments [4]

by phdscam

I’m a bit of a non-traditional student. I did not do well in college after high school and opted to go to work. Then came 9/11, and I did what I suppose a lot of naive 18-25 year olds did, I joined the military. There’s maybe a bit more to the story, but I’ll fast forward and say I was about 28 when I started college.

At the time I was hungry. I had a plan, get a four-year degree and go to law school. With the military giving me some credits and a packed undergrad schedule I graduated in 2 years with my bachelor’s degree. My last year I started working with a professor and decided I loved research. He suggested grad school. I took the GRE and scored well and started applying. Most schools wouldn’t take me without a masters degree, but two top ranked schools bit and accepted me fully funded.

After a campus visit I moved and my wife and I purchased a home near campus (I had inherited a little money and thought it might be a worthwhile investment time will tell). My first year of grad school was rough. After ten years out of school and only two years back it was a culture shock to get up to speed in the program. I quickly was put on probation and had my funding cut. Recently I was dropped from the PhD program.

I thought coming to the program I would be mentored and my “potential” would be developed. But the reality was no one cared or tried to help me improve. It was expected that we students would self-teach. Professors camped in their office reserving help for a few chosen students. Other’s have had papers returned to be rewritten rather than failing, one got an extension of a year. My papers were weak, but they were mine. For that I was told I did not have the capability to succeed. I disagree. My first term, with a bachelors I taught a class. I have been very capable with statistics and for the most part writing (though we can all always improve writing). The transition pieces that were hard for me were never addressed and profs I questioned at least once openly mocked me trying to improve. Consequently, now that I’m stuck here I guess I will wrap up my master’s degree and look for a job in data analysis. I hear they pay more. This experience has made me very jaded. I think the PhD is a scam and denotes more that the faculty like you than anything else.

And while my MA is still pending… All I have to show for my time to date is high blood pressure and stress. I wouldn’t recommend grad school to anyone.