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    Hey everyone,

    I've just finished doing Part III Maths at Cambridge and I'm considering applying for a PhD. Although I left with a first, I only just scraped it and so I'll be forced to apply outside of the COWI (Cambridge, Oxford, Warwick, Imperial) departments. After speaking with a few lecturers, Bath came up. Unquestionably, Bath is a good University and their Maths department (especially in my field) is very strong but in some ways, their image is weaker; it lacks the prestige of places like Oxbridge or LSE and on a global level, doesn't feature. If I turn out to be a decent researcher and work in academia afterwards, then none of this will matter as I'll be judged on my thesis and on the work that I do. If I choose to take a non-academic route, I imagine that my employer could be less meritocratic and matters of prestige and status could be influential (especially in places like the city where I could be applying among other PhD holders), and ultimately, if I can't find an academic job I'd like to start a well paid career somewhere.

    Is a non-academic employer going to think this way? How influential is the "Brand name" of your University in matters like these? Are these completely unreasonable thoughts? Are their first thoughts going to be "Not quite good enough to continue at Cambridge"?

    Thanks.
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    After having wasted 4 years and around £100k you will become a teaching assistant and effectively live on benefits for 5 more years.

    Then you will realise that the math teacher is never going to leave his spot and you will look for a career in banking.

    At this point you will realise that hundreds or rather thousands of phd students are doing just like you and by the time you get into the industry you'll be too old to get the models and bottles that you thought you deserved because of your baller phd.
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    I dont understand why you can't do a PhD at the COWI unis, the minimum they want is a 2:1, and you got a first.
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    You're being forced to apply to somewhere outside of COWI? Are you sure that even though you just scraped a first they won't accept you? Regardless of if you just scraped a first or not, it's a first! That's an incredible feat AND it's from Cambridge!
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    Thanks for the replies.

    (Original post by JongKey)
    You're being forced to apply to somewhere outside of COWI? Are you sure that even though you just scraped a first they won't accept you? Regardless of if you just scraped a first or not, it's a first! That's an incredible feat AND it's from Cambridge!
    Yeah, I'm totally happy with it and I really enjoy mathematics but I really doubt it'll be enough. My Ex-gf (at Oxford) was told that realistically in order to continue at Oxford for a DPhil she'd need to get about 85+ in finals (which would put her squarely within the top 10 in the year). So I doubt that my 73 would cut it.

    Still, I'll think about it. As much as I enjoy Mathematics, I hate the idea of ending up as a post-doc moving around every year or so on a tiny stipend and hoping that one day, I'll get tenure somewhere.
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    (Original post by KingHomer)
    Yeah, I'm totally happy with it and I really enjoy mathematics but I really doubt it'll be enough. My Ex-gf (at Oxford) was told that realistically in order to continue at Oxford for a DPhil she'd need to get about 85+ in finals (which would put her squarely within the top 10 in the year). So I doubt that my 73 would cut it.
    I dont have any knowledge to doubt this, but it seems odd. I'm not a maths student, but in physics at least, getting such marks involves mindlessly grinding problem sheets and dumb luck rather than inherent talent. It seems like a rather arbitrary way to select candidates.
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    Academia aside, is this a dead end?
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    What courses did you take in part III? A more specialised PhD might be on the cards at top universities.

    I think you need to decide what you really want to do. You're in a brilliant position wrt academic qualifications. If your soft skills are up to scratch, consultancy could be an option. Make use of cambridge's events -- McKinsey are coming this week to talk to mathsy postgrads aren't they?

    If you want to do a PhD in Maths, do it. For non-academic fields, the uni name is important but you'll be surprised how many very high-paying careers will be open to you. With a first in cambridge undergrad with part III, even with a 'lesser' uni name PhD, you will be competitive. I would consider applying to the US; you might get some top PhD placements there.
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    I was in a similar position to the OP 3 years ago, first from Oxbridge, went to a non-Oxbridge university to do a PhD thinking I was set on an academic career so 'prestige/brand' didn't matter. That's fine if you're going to carry on in academia - getting post-docs and lectureships will completely depend upon your track-record of research not on which university you're from. If you want to go into industry then unfortunately the brand is everything. It is highly unlikely that the company will know that say Warwick or Bath is the best in the world in your specialised field of research and as far as they are concerned a PhD from Oxbridge is better than Imperial/Warwick which is better than Hull etc despite the fact that at Hull you might work with an FRS Professor and at Oxbridge you might be working with a 30-something lecturer.

    I think you just have to decide what is more likely long-term - academia and industry. If it's the former then pick the PhD that will give you the best start to an academic career. If it's the latter then I'd question why you're considering a PhD in the first place as sadly they really aren't valued in most industries.
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    (Original post by astros4ws)
    I think you just have to decide what is more likely long-term - academia and industry. If it's the former then pick the PhD that will give you the best start to an academic career. If it's the latter then I'd question why you're considering a PhD in the first place as sadly they really aren't valued in most industries.
    I completely agree. Do you mind if I ask what you decided to do in the end?
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    (Original post by KingHomer)
    I completely agree. Do you mind if I ask what you decided to do in the end?
    I'm starting with a strategy consulting firm early next year once I've finished writing up my PhD. Good luck with making a decision on the PhD!
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    (Original post by Frenchous)
    After having wasted 4 years and around £100k you will become a teaching assistant and effectively live on benefits for 5 more years.

    Then you will realise that the math teacher is never going to leave his spot and you will look for a career in banking.

    At this point you will realise that hundreds or rather thousands of phd students are doing just like you and by the time you get into the industry you'll be too old to get the models and bottles that you thought you deserved because of your baller phd.
    You're a second year. How the hell would you know?
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    (Original post by Teenage Pirate)
    You're a second year. How the hell would you know?
    Because I read the economist? You should open one when you will have covered supply and demand at your sixth form.
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    (Original post by Frenchous)
    Because I read the economist? You should open one when you will have covered supply and demand at your sixth form.
    You obviously have NO idea whatsoever because your first sentence talks about how a PhD will set you back £100k. Then you assume that people doing PhDs do them to become "teachers."

    I mean basically you just have no clue whatsoever about anything to do with PhDs but you decided to come onto this thread to swing your **** around or whatever because your "teacher" hasn't been setting you enough coursework.
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    (Original post by Frenchous)
    After having wasted 4 years and around £100k you will become a teaching assistant and effectively live on benefits for 5 more years.

    Then you will realise that the math teacher is never going to leave his spot and you will look for a career in banking.

    At this point you will realise that hundreds or rather thousands of phd students are doing just like you and by the time you get into the industry you'll be too old to get the models and bottles that you thought you deserved because of your baller phd.
    You realise that you receive a stipend as a PhD student?

    Why am I asking, clearly you have no clue.
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    (Original post by Teenage Pirate)
    You obviously have NO idea whatsoever because your first sentence talks about how a PhD will set you back £100k. Then you assume that people doing PhDs do them to become "teachers."

    I mean basically you just have no clue whatsoever about anything to do with PhDs but you decided to come onto this thread to swing your **** around or whatever because your "teacher" hasn't been setting you enough coursework.
    (Original post by Gimothy)
    You realise that you receive a stipend as a PhD student?

    Why am I asking, clearly you have no clue.
    I could redirect you to the special report of the economist on phd students but I'll just sum it up for you:

    - there are way too much phd students for the number of academic jobs available
    - therefore they have to accept to be teaching/research assistant in the hope that a spot will be free sooner or later
    - most of them are disapointed and try to move to the private sector but they find out that they are not more attractive that fresh graduates to employers.

    If don't feel like arguing about that. It's just the plain truth.
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    (Original post by Frenchous)
    I could redirect you to the special report of the economist on phd students but I'll just sum it up for you:

    - there are way too much phd students for the number of academic jobs available
    - therefore they have to accept to be teaching/research assistant in the hope that a spot will be free sooner or later
    - most of them are disapointed and try to move to the private sector but they find out that they are not more attractive that fresh graduates to employers.

    If don't feel like arguing about that. It's just the plain truth.
    You shouldn't be arguing this because you have no clue, you've just read one article.

    While your first point is true, your second point is flawed (PhD candidates become assistants for extra money and exposure to academics and to get their names on publications) and your third point is irrelevant because you're still in the mindset of thinking of a PhD as a degree course like your BSc or whatever instead of as a job. People sometimes move jobs.

    And while your first point is true in general, it's not true in all fields - especially not in hard sciences (and finance funnily enough). And in hard sciences, your last point just doesn't hold true. A PhD in biochemistry has more value than a BSc in biochemistry to a pharmaceutical company and commands a higher salary.

    And given that the only investment you make by choosing to do a PhD is the time (since most are fully/over) funded and the opportunity cost, it's to a large extent a lifestyle decision.
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    (Original post by Gimothy)
    You realise that you receive a stipend as a PhD student?

    Why am I asking, clearly you have no clue.
    Pretty much.
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    (Original post by Frenchous)
    I could redirect you to the special report of the economist on phd students but I'll just sum it up for you:

    - there are way too much phd students for the number of academic jobs available
    - therefore they have to accept to be teaching/research assistant in the hope that a spot will be free sooner or later
    - most of them are disapointed and try to move to the private sector but they find out that they are not more attractive that fresh graduates to employers.

    If don't feel like arguing about that. It's just the plain truth.
    Universities don't hire 'teachers'. People who are associated with universities for research can take on teaching roles, sometimes as part of their contract and sometimes to top up their income, but they would have to have already been employed by the university in a research role. A 'Research Associate' is a full academic job for which a PhD is a requirement - just on a short term contract.

    PhDs are not especially valued by ordinary graduate employers, but there are jobs in the private sector - industrial research, quantitative roles in finance, etc. - that desire and even require them. The situation is also somewhat different in the sciences and engineering to humanities. Most people graduate with humanities and arts degrees and there is little PhD funding and few academic places for these people. PhDs in these disciplines also have minimal commercial value to anyone. That isn't the case for quantitative subjects.
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    So does anyone here suggests to OP that doing a PhD at Bath is a better option that landing a job in an IB straight after his degree from Cambridge?

    If not just shut up.
 
 
 
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