The right kind of graduate school advice is at a premium if you only talk things through with your teachers, career guides and even your parents. Sure, many of us are told the reasons we should be starting a PhD: We’ll get to discover the cure for cancer, we’ll change the world, and we may even end world poverty.
But this is only half of the story. The reality is that, whilst carrying out PhD research can be exciting and interesting, there are also 10 things you need to know that people just aren’t telling you.
So let’s take a look at 10 things you need to know about PhD research before starting a PhD.
Graduate School Advice: Staying Motivated Is Not Easy
Staying motivated when studying for a PhD is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do. Think about it: You’ll be labouring away for a number of years without really making any money, whilst there will be other industries out there who can offer you a much bigger pay-cheque.
Staying focused, then, is one of the hardest aspects of PhD research. You need to look at short-term goals, and you need to make sure that you don’t keep reminding yourself that there are still “years and years of research left.”
The Sooner You Finish Your PhD Research, The Better
For some students, finishing a PhD takes a lot of time. This, you might think, is natural.
But you’d be wrong. If you spend up to 6 years working on your PhD, you surely don’t need us to tell you that this is just too long. Yet many students make the mistake of delaying, delaying, delaying until there is literally no time left. They have wasted time, and they have wasted years.
Our advice? Always finish on time.
Graduate School Advice: You’re Not Going To Change The World
Okay, you might. But most grad students don’t change the world with their research. The reality is that their papers and research are seen by a handful of other researchers at the most. It figures too; after all, most prominent scientists spend years working on projects until they’ve made a significant contribution. It doesn’t just happen after a couple of years working on a PhD.
Starting A PhD: You Need To Learn To Read, Write And Network
It might sound obvious, but no one is going to tell you that you need to learn to read, write and network at ten times the level you have done in the past.
You need to learn how to read quickly and extract key information from a text.
You need to learn how to be concise and to-the-point with your writing. There is no room for superfluous information.
And you need to learn how to network with your peers in order to get the best out of your research.
You Need To Grown Your Online Reputation
Everyone who is anyone has an online presence today. Mathematicians have online presence, as do entrepreneurs and economists.
And so, too, do scientists. This means you.
We suggest getting yourself a blog, as well as a Twitter account and a LinkedIn profile. It will help to give you and your research maximum exposure, and it will ensure that your work is seen by more than just a handful of people.
Graduate School Advice: Work Quickly, Get Feedback
If you work slowly and then ask for feedback, you might be told that you need to improve on a few things. This can be pretty damaging if you worked for months on something to make sure that it was totally perfect.
If, however, you hand work in quickly and get feedback quickly, you are saving so much time in the long-run. You are finding out your faults early and making changes early.
As opposed to finding out your faults late and making changes too late.
You Could Become Lost And Disenchanted
Lots of students quit their PhD online programs. Lots.
Why? Sometimes they feel they’re not making any progress. Other times they become uncertain, whilst at other times they look at the well-paid jobs their peers have.
Many PhD students get lost at some point, but you just have to realise that this is one obstacle that can be overcome. Remind yourself why you are studying for a PhD and look at the bigger picture.
You Need To Be An Expert In Your Field
The end goal of your PhD is for you to be an expert on your chosen subject. For this reason, you need to become an expert as you go along.
Naturally, though, you might have difficult moments where you ask your superiors for help. The problem is that they often know about as much as your mom does on the subject. The reality is that your supers can’t actually help you all that much. A lot of the time it is down to just you.
PhD Research Is All About Time Management
You’ve probably heard about the students who take 6 years to complete their PhD. You probably think this means you can take 6 years too.
That’s the wrong attitude. The right attitude means you implement a time management plan that allows you to be effective as well as efficient. Managing your time means you don’t get stressed, and it definitely means you won’t miss deadlines. We suggest buying The 4 Hour Workweek to help you map out your time schedule.
All In All, Starting a PhD Is Exciting
Now for the good bit: Starting a PhD is exciting. The best online PhD programs are at your service. You meet new people, you explore your ideas, and you get to be creative. Plus, you’re still a student. So have fun like a student! Grad school is a fantastic time in anyone’s life, and for this reason we would suggest that you don’t take everything too seriously. Learn to loosen up and enjoy the ride.