- What is my age:
- I am 34
I was curious about what others thought about dating in grad school, esp. I've heard that grad school is the last opportunity to meet a large group of intellectual and ambitious people at once. Since educated people tend to marry other educated people and meeting people once you're part of the workforce is difficult, is grad school a great place to meet a SO? Or is dating other grad students a bad idea because of professional considerations? Should people just avoid dating grad students in their own program ex. Does it matter by program level because of the potential for students to be your close colleagues?
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info. If you follow my blog, you might already know that Mr. The act of typing these three words strangled my heart for a couple of seconds.
Those three words conjure up all the bad memories that once dominated my life, my thoughts, and my feelings. Thinking about the PhD experience brings back all sorts of emotions, most of which are negative: shame, guilt, disappointment, and distress.
It usually took the students in the program six years to finish. Some were quick to complete the degree in five years. Some stayed in the program for eight years before they could call themselves a Doctor. And some left halfway through.
Almost half of graduate students never received their PhD diplomas. The other half completed their doctoral degree within 10 years. I belong to the first group: the dropouts. I was fortunate enough to get tuition remission and a graduate assistantship from the school I attended. I would get a monthly stipend in exchange for doing research work for the professors in the department.
Initially, I was as happy as a clam to explore a new adventure in my life without having to get into debt to finance it.
Our one priority was to churn out research papers and getting them published in one of the top journals in the field. Needless to say, I tried to live on the bare minimum during the school year to save for the summer.
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Everyone in my PhD program back then had a different background. Some had worked for years.
Some just graduated from college. What I describe below does not apply to every PhD student.
But this is what I experienced during my four years in the doctoral program. Getting accepted into a PhD program is not easy, and finishing the degree is definitely no joke. At lunch time and during our casual conversations, I would hear my colleagues talking about how they were the educated elites of society living in the ivory academic tower.
I just felt poor and emotionally drained. The life of a PhD student is not as glamorous as many might think. Political Science, after all, is not as marketable as Engineering, Economics, Computer Science or other hard sciences. He eventually gave up on academia and moving into the private sector to work as a statistician. Our PhD program, though in Political Science, focused heavily on statistics, so some people chose the private sector route to work as data analysts.
Just like me. One thing I found rampant among the PhD student community was depression and the Impostor syndrome a form of intellectual self-doubt. When you are put into a selected group of intelligent and driven people who you know are constantly and secretly compared to you by your professors, the desire to compete is real.
Many people I knew suffered from depression and had to take anti-depressants on a regular basis. Many students also had the Imposter syndrome where they constantly questioned how and why they even got into a PhD program and doubted their ability to finish it. Such negative thoughts took a toll on their health and their studies. The dating scene among PhD students in general was dire.
We lived in a bubble buried in our coursework, teaching, and research. The people we knew were the ones we interacted with the most: other PhD students.
The rule was to prevent the hostility and awkwardness that ensues after a breakup. It can affect the productivity of not only the students involved but also others who need to work with them. Another reason is that it is extremely difficult for people in the same program to get academic jobs at the same university. However, some still broke the rule and had to face each other in a tiny lab and classroom every single day for years.
Needless to say, no one was happy to go through that experience. Many PhD students had a hard time finding a date outside of school.
Many women are also not so impressed to hear that their potential boyfriend will have to live on a modest salary for years and not know where or when they can find employment. If you are in law school or medical school, chances are you will make a great salary after graduation. If you are a woman pursuing a PhD degree, men can find you intimidating. But the truth is a lot of men feel intimidated by more successful or better educated women. I just smiled and moved on with my life.
You might think dating is not so important. But when you stay in a PhD program for years and keep wondering when or whether you will ever get married, start a family, and have kids, it is not particularly healthy. I talked to many women who got increasingly worried about their biological clock ticking while stressing out about their dissertation and job prospects. The women who already had a family was under tremendous pressure to take good care of their family and perform the various tasks expected of a PhD student.
Have you experienced those college days when you went to club meetings just because of the free food? It happened to me a lot when I was in grad school. My colleagues and I would get excited whenever we got an about a free food event. We had to balance spending time walking to get the food and focusing on our work. We had the Graduate Student Council meetings once every month, and many students showed up just for the free food.
I remember one time someone in my program used an empty yogurt tub as their lunch box. Someone quipped right next to him that it was a good indicator of extreme poverty. Some also applied for food stamps, as many other PhD students did. What I described above might sound depressing and biased.
This post is based on my own observations and the various conversations I had with other PhD students at the university as well as other schools. I wholeheartedly agree that there are great benefits to pursuing a PhD program. I respect those who overcome great challenges to pursue their passion and realize their dreams.
The perils of dating a phd student (or: an honest academic’s dating profile… )
If one day our son wants to pursue a PhD degree, I will definitely support him. Many young people have asked me why I decided to pursue a PhD, why I dropped out, and whether they should apply to a doctoral program. I always tell them the pros and cons of the decision as objectively as I can. Blogging As A Side Business. That sounds really rough. I was a poor under grad, then a poor married under grad.
But I was able to work through school which kept me from feeling that strain. I can understand the feeling you get bc you dropped out. Then that you actually acted on that and quit.
That took guts! Thank you so much, Ember! Man that sounds exhausting! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I know a couple PhD students and it sounds rough for them, too. Having your employer pay for your degree is a great financial option. Thank you for your kind words! Giving up something may not be a bad option at all.
If it makes more sense, why not? Will my life be even better than my current retirement life? Being realistic pretty much killed the PhD thought. I think those are all great questions that you asked yourself. Thanks for sharing your story Mrs.