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    So I'm currently sitting on three MRes offers, one funded 4 year PhD offer and another PhD interview coming up. However I am feeling really jaded by academia right now. So I'm debating rejecting them all and taking a year out. Do some travelling, do some agricultural work, etc.

    I'm not really looking for advice for my own situation, I am more interested in the experiences of others. Did you or didn't you take a year out? Was it the right choice or did you regret it? Did you do something relevant to your subject or something unrelated? Etc.
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    Offers with funding are rare to come by so you must be a competitive candidate now. Unless you do something highly relevant to what you want to study later the chances of your staying competitive are low. However, don't just take any offer that comes your way because it's funded. There are lots of things to consider in terms of what you want to get out of your study, why you're doing it and whether the environment you'll be working in suits your learning and working style. Also bear in mind that a PhD is essentially a training course for independent research and won't necessarily define your career path.

    Just out of curiosity, why are you jaded by academia? That in itself should ring alarm bells because research degrees are essentially about working in academia.
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    I made the decision to take a year out and honestly it's been the worst decision I've made. I thought the year out would give me time to build up professional experiences and a portfolio but I've found it extremely difficult to function without having university. All the motivation and work I accomplished during uni has sort of faded out and now I've found myself in a kind of limbo where I'm just waiting to get back to doing something productive.

    My main issue right now is trying to find a course in a city I can afford to live whilst also finding a course that I want to do. The year out that I thought would help me has only proved to drain me emotionally and also money-wise.

    I know a lot of people who have had different experiences and it probably varies a lot depending on what field you're in.

    I hope this helps a little bit!!
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    I started my career, had a family and waited 15yrs before I did my Masters, then went straight onto a funded PhD. I really recommend that you take a break before starting your PhD, as you need to have a real appetite for the process from the outset.
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    (Original post by Quantex)
    So I'm currently sitting on three MRes offers, one funded 4 year PhD offer and another PhD interview coming up. However I am feeling really jaded by academia right now. So I'm debating rejecting them all and taking a year out. Do some travelling, do some agricultural work, etc.

    I'm not really looking for advice for my own situation, I am more interested in the experiences of others. Did you or didn't you take a year out? Was it the right choice or did you regret it? Did you do something relevant to your subject or something unrelated? Etc.
    Competition in academia is only likely to get worse meaning that you might not come across a funded PhD in the future.
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    I don't have experience of this but I wish I did so. Especially between Masters and PhD.
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    I think the point that others have made about how you may not get a funded offer second time around is a pertinent one.

    That said, I took two academic years off between finishing my part-time MA and starting a full-time PhD (though I'm now part-time on that too!). Whilst I didn't feel like my MA was that hard, I think I just wanted a change from education and to build up my CV a bit more. I also wasn't entirely sure how much I actually wanted to do a PhD (lots of family pressure to do one this end), so I felt the need to take some time out to decide.

    I did two internships in those two years (one paid, one unpaid. Latter was a bit soul-destroying, ngl) and carried on with my voluntary work. I'm really glad I took the time out to do that because it makes me feel a bit more confident in myself, knowing that I have more experience on my CV (I'd never really had a job or an internship until after I started my Masters - not even a paper round or any retail work!). I think giving my brain a rest was a good idea too. In all honesty, I did not want to start my PhD in 2014 - I would have rather waited even longer before starting the PhD! :eek:
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    (Original post by Quantex)
    So I'm currently sitting on three MRes offers, one funded 4 year PhD offer and another PhD interview coming up. However I am feeling really jaded by academia right now. So I'm debating rejecting them all and taking a year out. Do some travelling, do some agricultural work, etc.

    I'm not really looking for advice for my own situation, I am more interested in the experiences of others. Did you or didn't you take a year out? Was it the right choice or did you regret it? Did you do something relevant to your subject or something unrelated? Etc.
    While others are highligting the risk of funding getting more competitive, I'd say this: while I don't have personal experience of a Phd, some of the people I know who have done them would make me very, very loathe to suggest you go straight into a 4-year PhD when you are feeling like this. I think the chances of burnout, dropping out or depression sound fairly high given where you are. You are clearly prepared to do a master's if necessary; my suggestion would be to take the year out, try keep it relevant but absolutely do some of the travelling etc you may find it difficult to do later once you are in the "I have a Phd must find job" mindset, and then reapply later. If you don't take the year out, although it would be financially worse, you may want to consider doing one of the MRes's rather than a PhD to give you more flexibility should you decide sometime during the year ahead that you really do in fact need a break from academia before completing a PhD.

    I personally took some time out before my first masters - some of it intentional and some not - which included a year backpacking around many countries, an experience that is still one of the best years of my life and which I wouldn't trade for anything.
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    (Original post by Quantex)
    So I'm currently sitting on three MRes offers, one funded 4 year PhD offer and another PhD interview coming up. However I am feeling really jaded by academia right now. So I'm debating rejecting them all and taking a year out. Do some travelling, do some agricultural work, etc.

    I'm not really looking for advice for my own situation, I am more interested in the experiences of others. Did you or didn't you take a year out? Was it the right choice or did you regret it? Did you do something relevant to your subject or something unrelated? Etc.
    I decided to take a few years out after my bachelors degree. There were a number of reasons:

    a) I wanted to really be sure that I wanted to study further. A PhD is an important commitment and I feel that I was not ready to make the sacrifice. I would be taking on more debt without having any real work experience to fall back on.
    b) I need a break from the politics of academia. Universities are highly political environments and I needed a break from all that to re-charge my batteries.
    c) Finally, I wanted to save up enough to have a 'safety fund' in case things turned south.

    My supervisors highly recommended to all their students that they take breaks before embarking on a full-time Masters and PhD. One of them, a tenure-tracked Professor at a leading institution especially encouraged this as he felt it gave them a sense of perspective that your traditional route might not give. Having followed his advice, I have to say I agree. I'm older, more mature, and in my opinion, ready to confront daily grind.
 
 
 

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