Should I Get a PhD?
Should I Get My PhD Now?
1. Are your goals to be a professor or a researcher?
2. This is a lot different than college
3. Know what makes a successful grad student
4. Finances matter
5. Plan far ahead -- not in your senior year
6. Know there are both benefits and drawbacks
How Do I Apply to a PhD Program?
• “How can I afford it?” Most competitive full-time PhD programs have assistantships that pay your tuition and living expenses. Aim for those first.
• “Should I retake my GRE test?” If it's after December 1, there's probably not enough time. If you think you have a good score, but you think it could be better, go ahead and apply. You can always retake the test next year and really focus on prepping for it.
• “What do I write in my Statement of Purpose?” Four things: 1) Why you want a PhD so bad that you are singing about it in the hallway, 2) what you will do with a PhD, 3) what specific topics or questions you’re interested in, and 4) why you think that school’s a great fit.
• “Who should write my recommendation letters?” Ask the best-known researchers you know in the field that you are applying. Next, ask anyone you’ve done research with. Third, ask whoever knows you best and will write these before the deadline.
• “How many schools should I apply to?” If you’re doing this at the 11th hour (say in December), I’d limit yourself to three schools: Your dream school, your “best-fit” school, and a safety school. Otherwise, if you had lots of time, you might apply to as many as 10. (The third time I applied, I applied to 14).
• “If I don’t get in to my dream school will it hurt my chance for next year?” Nope. They either won’t remember you applied (they might have 100+ applications), or they’ll think you’re persistent. And as someone once told me, "The P in Phd stands for 'Persistence."
Good Advice that Works for Most Fields