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Afraid to commit to a PhD

  1. Oct 30, 2012 #1
    Hi everyone, I'm finally finishing my Master's in theoretical physics.

    These past two years reminded me of how easily I become excited and lose interest. My thesis is on computer simulations which also helped further develop my programming skills (I do love programming). As super exciting as everything was I did not forget to keep true to myself and loose interest at some point, which I managed to overcome by working on an independent project for a short time.

    Anyway, the time has come for me to decide what to do next and unfortunately I have to react to PhD openings quite soon. As the titles says, I'm afraid to commit to a PhD because of my short "attention" span. I'm afraid I may loose interest in the first year and the thought of having to write up 200 pages for the thesis, scares me.

    I was thinking a job in the software industry with the ability to change jobs often, may keep me more interested, but again, my experience tells me that most of the times, expectations don't meet reality.

    Could you share your experience in similar situations or do you have a piece of advice I could use in making my decision easier (or worse)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2012 #2
    :smile: I don't have a chance to go back to school for higher degrees anymore. Working in any industries always offers great challenges and lessons to defy and learn. By "often changing jobs", do you mean to change your companies quite often ? I am no allergic to that at all, as I think my life is like a ship and I am the only pilot to steer it from ocean to ocean :biggrin: [I KNOW MY LITERATURE SUX, I always get bad grades of it in schools]. I am now looking for a fulltime or parttime job at a French company based in my city that I can work online from 4-7pm (unsure if allowed) and onsite (at office) from 7-11pm as a php developer. My basic understanding of life is "Working gives birth to Money, and Studying gives rise to laziness (for work)"

    At present I am also interested in teaching myself of Objective-C. Thanks Gosh I have a fake Mackintosh to play with [for personal use purposes only]
  4. Oct 31, 2012 #3


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    What do you want to do with a PhD, if you got it?
  5. Oct 31, 2012 #4
    Whatever I could obtain, I would still go back to "work for a living". By "work", I mean it might be of any sort of jobs (research or do what my bosses want me to do). In Japan where I could visit I have learned that the starting salary for a fresh undergraduate from college only differs within $100-$200 from that for one with higher degrees (that is, a brand-new under-graduate may earn 190000-200000 yens as of his base salary while a brand-new graduate may get 200000~210000 or 220000 yens and a postgraduate may obtain 220000~240000 yens etc).

    I don't know how about that in the US or UK, but I think it won't change much. Wherever I have been to, there are always people I like and don't like; some have very bad attitude and behaviors and some are very kind and good.
    I have learned from my observation that if you spend time working as a truly hard working researcher, you might turn yourself into someone who probably lacks or doesn't have many tastes of the outside life (I know this from watching some of my aged professors; they normally look normal but at times act weird, sort of mentally weirdness BUT they are definitely not crazy)
  6. Nov 1, 2012 #5
    Hey trueo, thanks for your opinion. You definitely mention some of the things I'm afraid of, if I commit to an academic life.

    Khashishi, it's not really about the PhD, it's more a question of committing to academia. As a theoretical physicist, getting a job as a researcher in some company is not really an option I think.
  7. Nov 1, 2012 #6
    Why do you lose interest so fast? The tone of your post implies that you blame something, from my perspective at least. Is it a character thing or something else?
  8. Nov 1, 2012 #7
    The most likely outcome of a career in theoretical physics is that you don't do physics after grad school (and maybe a postdoc). I did my phd in particle theory, and know a large number of theory phds, almost all of which work in insurance, finance, IT, etc.
  9. Nov 7, 2012 #8
    It's just a character thing, I've always been like that so I don't blame anything else.
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