Should I accept PhD offer

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mat3003
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#1
Report Thread starter 5 years ago
#1
Hi all,

I have been offered a fully funded offer for a 4year PhD starting in October at Oxbridge, which I was initially very happy about. However, I have started having major doubts on whether I should accept the offer and go through with it.

My main issue with the PhD offer is the location, about a 25-30 min drive away from the town centre, I am terrified that I will be overcome by loneliness and the isolation of the location, and end up dropping out. Im used to living in big cities and this will be a major change for me. Ive struggled with mental health in the past, and Im worried that the stress of a PhD coupled with the isolation of the location will result in my previous issues resurfacing.

I am now seriously considering taking a year out and re-applying next year to a different program in a different location. I am on track to receive a 1st class degree from a Top UK 10 university and have a strong research background.

I know this sounds absolutely ridiculous, and I am in a position that many would kill to be in. I don't want to sound ungrateful in anyway, but I was wondering if anyone had any advice or suggestions regarding my situation, and if people have had experience doing PhD in isolated places. Are my fears are completely irrational?

Thank you
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alleycat393
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#2
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#2
(Original post by mat3003)
...
Hi,

First off, very well done for getting your offer! Fully funded PhDs are hard to come by and even more so at competitive unis like Oxbridge. However, it doesn't sound like you're ready to do one so maybe reconsidering is a good idea. PhDs are intensive courses that require quite a bit of resilience and you really have to be sure about taking the offer. The first thing to say though is that if you've got a 4 year program offer that suggests that it will be a structured program which others may be on which will help but without knowing your specific circumstances I can't say that for sure. It is very important to find out what kind of support systems are in place when taking up an offer. If you are in the sciences you will most likely work in a research group but it's different for the humanities. You need to be quite sure that you're a good match for your supervisor as well in terms of working style as that relationship is key. But yes there will be times when you're working alone on your project and will have to work independently. The final thing to say is that uni are a bubble within themselves even if you're in a big city and you will be expected to engage in uni life as a PhD student. In the UK you're essentially seen as a member of staff so you may have other duties such as teaching to fulfill. If you do have doubts about whether the program is for you or not it's worth turning down the offer and having a good think about whether this is what you want and need career wise as this is not a decision to take lightly or because of the 'prestige' of the offer.
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Doones
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#3
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#3
(Original post by mat3003)
My main issue with the PhD offer is the location, about a 25-30 min drive away from the town centre,
The location of what? Your college, your department, your postgrad accommodation?

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mat3003
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#4
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
The location of what? Your college, your department, your postgrad accommodation?

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Sorry, I should have clarified. Its the location of the department, where I would be working on a daily basis.
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chazwomaq
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#5
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#5
(Original post by mat3003)
My main issue with the PhD offer is the location, about a 25-30 min drive away from the town centre, I am terrified that I will be overcome by loneliness and the isolation of the location, and end up dropping out. Im used to living in big cities and this will be a major change for me...
(Original post by mat3003)
Sorry, I should have clarified. Its the location of the department, where I would be working on a daily basis.
So why not live in Oxford/Cambridge (small cities both) and commute to work like the majority of people in the country? This sounds so obvious I think there must be something else going on. I would not recommend a PhD unless you are really desperate to do it.

Are my fears are completely irrational?
It sounds like it. Is there something else you are actually worried about?
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Doones
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#6
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(Original post by mat3003)
Sorry, I should have clarified. Its the location of the department, where I would be working on a daily basis.
And where is your accommodation? The department is basically where you work. Like a job. And you certainly will be able to socialise with your "co-workers" during the working day, and after.

Beyond the department there are plenty of opportunities to socialise at Oxbridge. For example, postgrads can participate fully in all the hundreds of clubs and societies and sports available to all students. Either through your college, or at the university level.

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threeportdrift
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#7
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#7
(Original post by mat3003)
...............
25-30 minutes is a perfectly normal commuting time you will probably face for the rest of your life - it's not the sort of distance that is isolating in normal adult life.

There is no necessity for extremes of stress during a PhD, it's not really any more or less stressful than any other stage in life. It's not actually mandatory to find a PhD an enormous trauma, no matter what TSR frequently suggests.

You are presumably traveling to a research location to be part of a group? You would be even more isolated if you were a philosophy PhD student sitting in your College room in the middle of town, with all your resources online and no reason ever to leave the College gates.

If you can even consider the distance, presumably you have a car, that gives you many more options than most students to control your activities. You are Oxfordshire - it's hardly fieldwork in Siberia - so any isolation and loneliness is relative, not absolute - bear that in mind.

You have excellent credentials for the course, in terms of academic background and research experience and you clearly have the confidence of more senior academic to have won a very rare achievement - a fully funded PhD place. So you start of in the best possible place professionally.

Finally, there are excellent MH resources in most Universities nowadays. You could even warn the University Counselling Service beforehand and make contact from the outset if you think you may need support. But there will be ways to take sabbaticals etc if the need arises.
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Tharsh96
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#8
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#8
Going through something similar. Did you end up doing the PhD?
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