chileng
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I was happy in my undergrad and masters but now that I am doing a PhD with no funding, I hate watching my mates from undergrad get good jobs on linkedin when I am struggling for money and I have to be in a campus full of kids 10 years younger than me when everyone else is settling and moving life forward starting families.

I used to work for two years after my undergrad and it wasn't as bad as this financially. I hate being poor with literally 0 in my savings as I have spent the savings on my maintenance and will have to take out a loan!
I wish I just worked instead of starting this never ending PhD program.
Last edited by chileng; 2 months ago
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artful_lounger
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Depending on how far into the PhD you are you may be able to apply to some funding sources even after starting - if it's just the funding which is causing stress and concerns you might want to discuss this with your supervisor. Otherwise it might be worth having a serious discussion with your supervisor about exit strategies if it's really intolerable and you don't see yourself finishing/don't want to anymore.

However it may also be worth reflecting on your original plans for why you started the PhD - it may be that you've lost sight of the forest for the trees, but that spending a bit of time to think about why you originally started will help you remember why you want to do this. A PhD is definitely not something to go into lightly though, so if you didn't have very clear goals on starting an unfunded PhD and feel like this now then that may well be a sign that as above, it could be time to start talking to your supervisor about withdrawing from it.

mnot PhoenixFortune and The_Lonely_Goatherd might have some thoughts too, as current (and/or former?) PhD students themselves?
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0le
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I agree that PhD students are paid too little money and financially the PhD is one of the most frustrating jobs, because you are paid very little compared to the stress and requirements of the role.

If you really feel that the PhD is not for you, then you can quit it and find something else, although I am not sure how difficult you will find it to get a new job. However, the PhD also has many ups and downs and this may be a situation where you are just during an unusually long down period. I think it would therefore be best to take a week break where you do little work and just focus on relaxing.
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Plantagenet Crown
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(Original post by chileng)
I was happy in my undergrad and masters but now that I am doing a PhD with no funding, I hate watching my mates from undergrad get good jobs on linkedin when I am struggling for money and I have to be in a campus full of kids 10 years younger than me when everyone else is settling and moving life forward starting families.

I used to work for two years after my undergrad and it wasn't as bad as this financially. I hate being poor with literally 0 in my savings as I have spent the savings on my maintenance and will have to take out a loan!
I wish I just worked instead of starting this never ending PhD program.
I can't help but wonder whether you did sufficient research into what a PhD actually is before starting. Everyone knows it's notoriously badly paid, but we deal with it because most of us have a genuine passion for the subject and are excited about producing completely original work to a particular field. As for everyone else being younger, the people in your research group should at least be in a similar age range as you. You can always drop out you know, you'll still end up with an MPhil qualification.
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Turning_A_Corner
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See if you can exit with an MPhil then. It doesn’t sound like this is where you want to be.
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chileng
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(Original post by Turning_A_Corner)
See if you can exit with an MPhil then. It doesn’t sound like this is where you want to be.
It still leaves me in the same position. I will still have to write a thesis and do corrections after a viva, just with a different qualification and no job still.
My girlfriend left me after first year of this as she was earning a lot more money as a graduate and didn't want to support me financially.
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0le
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(Original post by Plantagenet Crown)
I can't help but wonder whether you did sufficient research into what a PhD actually is before starting. Everyone knows it's notoriously badly paid, but we deal with it because most of us have a genuine passion for the subject and are excited about producing completely original work to a particular field.
I have to say I think this is harsh advice. How can anyone truly understand what a PhD is before starting one? Sure, you can talk to people and you can read books about it, but you will rarely have much knowledge about what it entails. On the matter of the subject field, even if you think that you enjoy it, research into said subject can be very different to how it is taught as well. It may be difficult to gain an appreciation of that difference unless you happen to come from a research background in that field.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by chileng)
I was happy in my undergrad and masters but now that I am doing a PhD with no funding, I hate watching my mates from undergrad get good jobs on linkedin when I am struggling for money and I have to be in a campus full of kids 10 years younger than me when everyone else is settling and moving life forward starting families.

I used to work for two years after my undergrad and it wasn't as bad as this financially. I hate being poor with literally 0 in my savings as I have spent the savings on my maintenance and will have to take out a loan!
I wish I just worked instead of starting this never ending PhD program.
What do you think about your PhD generally (funding notwithstanding)? If you aren't enjoying the process, and you've discussed possible options with your supervisors and personal tutor, then maybe you could consider exiting - an MPhil might be an option for you. How far are you into your PhD?

If your main concern is funding but you're enjoying the PhD process, then you could investigate possible funding sources now that you have started. At the end of the day, you signed up to the PhD knowing that you had no funding (and I presume you're in receipt of the doctoral loan?), so you presumably also knew what you were getting into financially-speaking. As a fellow self-funded PhD student, I get the temptation to compare yourself to your working/earning peers, but it's not helpful if you are set on completing the PhD.
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chileng
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(Original post by Plantagenet Crown)
I can't help but wonder whether you did sufficient research into what a PhD actually is before starting. Everyone knows it's notoriously badly paid, but we deal with it because most of us have a genuine passion for the subject and are excited about producing completely original work to a particular field. As for everyone else being younger, the people in your research group should at least be in a similar age range as you. You can always drop out you know, you'll still end up with an MPhil qualification.
I admit I didn't look into the future about this qualification and I just did it because I thought it was the next chapter after masters. I had no idea about what it even is. I just did it because I wanted a few more years in uni but then all of those mates left and started working so I didn't think about that when I made this bad decision.
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Plantagenet Crown
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(Original post by 0le)
I have to say I think this is harsh advice. How can anyone truly understand what a PhD is before starting one? Sure, you can talk to people and you can read books about it, but you will rarely have much knowledge about what it entails. On the matter of the subject field, even if you think that you enjoy it, research into said subject can be very different to how it is taught as well. It may be difficult to gain an appreciation of that difference unless you happen to come from a research background in that field.
I'm not saying you need to know everything about a PhD before starting but you should certainly know the kind of salary you'll be on and this seems to be the major gripe the OP has with it. And it's also common sense that you will be older than the undergraduates although I personally don't see why this is an issue for the OP because in my experience PhD students don't socialise with undergraduates anyway.
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Plantagenet Crown
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(Original post by chileng)
I admit I didn't look into the future about this qualification and I just did it because I thought it was the next chapter after masters. I had no idea about what it even is. I just did it because I wanted a few more years in uni but then all of those mates left and started working so I didn't think about that when I made this bad decision.
Well depending on how far in you are it certainly seems like the best option is looking at withdrawal.
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username4521132
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whats the phd in?
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chileng
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(Original post by Plantagenet Crown)
I'm not saying you need to know everything about a PhD before starting but you should certainly know the kind of salary you'll be on and this seems to be the major gripe the OP has with it. And it's also common sense that you will be older than the undergraduates although I personally don't see why this is an issue for the OP because in my experience PhD students don't socialise with undergraduates anyway.
I knew the salary and I didn't think too much of it as I was young back then and my lifestyle expectations were quite low. As the years rolled on I started worrying as I wanted to earn more money as my other mates started to earn a lot more and my partner split from me as she started earning more money after her promotion.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by chileng)
I admit I didn't look into the future about this qualification and I just did it because I thought it was the next chapter after masters. I had no idea about what it even is. I just did it because I wanted a few more years in uni but then all of those mates left and started working so I didn't think about that when I made this bad decision.
Tbh, it doesn't sound like you went into this PhD for the right reasons. If you are close to completing, you might want to stay to wrap it up, but if you still have multiple years ahead of you, and your heart isn't in it, you might want to bow out now before you've spent too long on it, and so you can find a job?
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Plantagenet Crown
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(Original post by chileng)
I knew the salary and I didn't think too much of it as I was young back then and my lifestyle expectations were quite low. As the years rolled on I started worrying as I wanted to earn more money as my other mates started to earn a lot more and my partner split from me as she started earning more money after her promotion.
Do you have an idea of what you want your career to be and is a PhD necessary for said career? Many if not most of us will have had to deal with the trade off of earning less than our course mates in the short term while we grind on with the PhD. But in my field at least it pays off because doctors start earning quite a lot more off the bat than those who started the same position with no doctorate.
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chileng
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(Original post by Plantagenet Crown)
Do you have an idea of what you want your career to be and is a PhD necessary for said career? Many if not most of us will have had to deal with the trade off of earning less than our course mates in the short term while we grind on with the PhD. But in my field at least it pays off because doctors start earning quite a lot more off the bat than those who started the same position with not doctorate.
I was actually hoping to open up the doors to academia, but then I realised the struggles faced in this career. Low pay, long hours, not being location flexible and no economic security. I only found out these things after starting but I was completely put off
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Turning_A_Corner
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(Original post by chileng)
It still leaves me in the same position. I will still have to write a thesis and do corrections after a viva, just with a different qualification and no job still.
My girlfriend left me after first year of this as she was earning a lot more money as a graduate and didn't want to support me financially.
Then get a job and exit with no qualification. You’re not trapped you know.
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Plantagenet Crown
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(Original post by chileng)
I was actually hoping to open up the doors to academia, but then I realised the struggles faced in this career. Low pay, long hours, not being location flexible and no economic security. I only found out these things after starting but I was completely put off
Oh God, academia is a complete and utter nightmare, I agree with you there. A PhD is also necessary for that so if once you figure out your career choice and find out a PhD isn't really required then the best thing may be to withdraw. But again, depends how far along in the program you are.
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mnot
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(Original post by chileng)
I was happy in my undergrad and masters but now that I am doing a PhD with no funding, I hate watching my mates from undergrad get good jobs on linkedin when I am struggling for money and I have to be in a campus full of kids 10 years younger than me when everyone else is settling and moving life forward starting families.

I used to work for two years after my undergrad and it wasn't as bad as this financially. I hate being poor with literally 0 in my savings as I have spent the savings on my maintenance and will have to take out a loan!
I wish I just worked instead of starting this never ending PhD program.
So basically you are miserable, no longer integrate into the student body and sick of having no money.
Honestly, this is no way to live.

PhDs with no funding it must be financially extremely difficult, TBH I didnt look at this as a viable option when I applied.

Pragmatically I think you should be looking to round this journey off as quick as possible. If you are less than 18months from finishing then I would try and find a way to see it through just so you can get the letters (as I think their is a significant CV benefit to a PhD over MPhil), but find some practical changes to make life more enjoyable (for example I have continued playing in university sports during my PhD, can you find a club/society, I know in my club we have several PhDs who take part so we're not an odd one out).

If you are still a long way out like 20 months+ id consider trying to just take what you've got so far and get an MPhil, go find a job and be happy.
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chileng
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(Original post by Plantagenet Crown)
Oh God, academia is a complete and utter nightmare, I agree with you there. A PhD is also necessary for that so if once you figure out your career choice and find out a PhD isn't really required then the best thing may be to withdraw. But again, depends how far along in the program you are.
Thank you for agreeing with me. To be honest very few jobs outside academia require a PhD. I have known some people doing biomed PhDs requiring the PHD for their research companies but very few jobs outside that require a PhD and that's why none of my mates did it. They just worked after undergrad.
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