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Programs No PhD = LOSER ?

  1. Oct 21, 2011 #1
    I've always valued education, though I didn't enjoy the process of becoming formally educated. I hold a BSEE and an MS in Systems Engineering, but I feel like, well, a loser b/c I never earned a PhD. I'm 48, semi-retired. I don't want to go back to school. I don't really like academia that much. I just feel like I need to get a doctorate for myself (it's very unlikely I would ever depend on it as a credential for a second career). Words of wisdom I have received center around "only those who really love academia should consider the immersion required to earn a doctorate".


  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2011 #2
    If you think success in life is measured in PhDs then you should probably go get one. :)

    I personally have high ambitions and I don't even plan to get a masters, so that's my input.
  4. Oct 21, 2011 #3
    I've always thought that a PhD enabled on to work certain positions which required a PhD.

    While PhDs tend to make higher pay, it can also limit you. The decision shouldn't be based on salary, but rather, what you really want to do in life.
  5. Oct 21, 2011 #4
    A PhD is a piece of paper. Just like paper money, it is a currency of sorts. The question is, do you really want something that only a PhD buys?

    Is it an academic position, industry job, external prestige, or self worth? I am sure there are other valid purchases you can make...

    Only you can tell.
  6. Oct 21, 2011 #5
    In my case, it would be self-worth.

    (Takes a deep look inside)

    Maybe I need some counseling instead.
  7. Oct 21, 2011 #6


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    A PhD is just a piece of paper.
  8. Oct 21, 2011 #7


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    It sounds to me like this is more of a personal feeling of incompleteness - that challenge in life that you have yet to meet.

    It's not a cakewalk if you do try to enroll in a PhD program, but it sounds like you're already aware of that. I guess the real quesion you need to answer is will you ultimately be happier if you go for it and get it? Or will you still feel incomplete because you haven't landed a good post doc, or got a paper published in Nature, or landed a tenured professorship, or won a Nobel Prize?

    My own advice would be that you have to want to try. If your motivation comes completely from fear or just a sense of incompleteness, that's not likely enough to carry you through. But if it comes from a desire to really do the work because you enjoy it, you'll be able to handle just about any twist in the road.
  9. Oct 21, 2011 #8
    Sounds like you've answered your own question - why on earth would you go through all the time and grief involved with getting a Ph.D. (it's actually far more than a piece of paper, and you cannot buy it) at this point in your life if you don't even want to? Maybe buy a boat or a sportscar instead. :smile:
  10. Oct 21, 2011 #9


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    This. Some people feel they need a fast car or big house or hot wife to not feel worthless. This is pretty much on that level and should be treated more as a psychological problem instead of a calling to get a phd.
  11. Oct 22, 2011 #10
    she just has to meet the said person's definition of hot and not the whole world's :smile:
    So our fellow forumer just has to meet HIS definition of loser to answer his own question.
  12. Oct 22, 2011 #11
    Haha, around here no money = loser. Anything else is ok.
  13. Oct 22, 2011 #12
    Stupid men handle this kind of mid-life crisis by going for the fast car - the tone of your posting seems to me a good few notches above this kind of stupid. But the aim to get a PhD seems to be an aim to get a similar kind of extrinsic reward (big car = PhD).

    What would be *intrinsically* satisfying to you? The best advice I have read on how to get happy with your life is choose some project/projects that are intrinsically motivated. "Buy Big car" is not a project likely to lead to a satisfying life - it's a vapid consumer whim.

    *Designing and building" a big car might be a project - could be part of a satisiying life. Good book, that in passing looks at the problems of extrinsic, formal education, is:

    Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky - "The How of Happiness" (lots of serious references if you get intrinsically motivated to study happiness psychology...)
  14. Oct 22, 2011 #13


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    Have you done any research project of modest length (few months, years long)?

    Is it because you want people to call you "Doctor"?
  15. Oct 23, 2011 #14
    If you feel inadequate without a Ph.D., you'll likely feel worse with a Ph.D. If you are kicking yourself for not getting a Ph.D., then if you get the Ph.D., you'll be kicking yourself for not getting a post-doc. If you get the post-doc, you'll be kicking yourself for not getting tenure track. Etc. Etc.
  16. Oct 23, 2011 #15
    I have only a bachelors, so I guess that makes me even more of a loser than you. Does that make you feel better?

    I know I don't have the mental stuff to get a PhD or a masters, and I hold people who have the with some degree of reverence and respect.
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