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PhD : applying far from home?

(19 Posts)
Wildestflower Sun 04-Feb-18 19:51:27

This is a question I'm worried to ask in real life. Please don't laugh at me. I've returned to education after many years and am loving my masters and thinking of applying for a PhD. I've seen an advert for a PhD with funding which looks amazing. But it's very far from home. I have 2DC in school, my DH has a job close to our home and for many other reasons, we can't move as a family. My DH thinks that it would be possible for me to apply and continue to live at home, going in for supervision. I am not sure. The PhD students in the department I'm doing my masters in, seem to be around quite a lot. I'd be really grateful for any advice, before I look like a fool before I've started down this path.

cordeliavorkosigan Sun 04-Feb-18 19:54:14

It really depends on the department, supervisor,and whether there is a taught component of the PhD course. And in how many times per week you could go in. As a supervisor I wouldn't mind if this was the situation with a very strong student but would find it more worrying with someone who needed more attention...

Wildestflower Sun 04-Feb-18 19:57:31

Thank you. It's very far from home, I wouldn't be able to go more than once a week, especially with my DC.

cordeliavorkosigan Sun 04-Feb-18 20:49:18

This doesn't sound promising, I'm afraid. There are just too many things that would need you to be there, like group meetings, seminars by visiting speakers, training and taught courses, you'd be invited to run tutorials or seminars, to help with undergraduate projects, your supervisor might also need to travel and might not be available on the one day you could make it... Etc etc. You might want to go to conferences, too.

user1494149444 Sun 04-Feb-18 21:06:36

What's the subject? In the Humanities, I knew people who undertook their PhDs remotely so long as they lived near to a major research library to undertake the research.
I only saw my supervisor once a month for my humanities PhD, and that was more frequently than a lot of my peers.
The major concern I would have is the mental isolation.

Linda1981 Sun 04-Feb-18 22:18:51

Hi there, I think if it is purely research based, it is doable. As long as you have access to electronic and physical libraries. Just a personal opinion.

cordeliavorkosigan Sun 04-Feb-18 23:25:58

Maybe it's doable in other fields then, but it still sounds isolating. What would your plans be after your PhD? Do you have a sound route to using the extra qualification or is this desire more out of academic interest alone?
Academic jobs are few and far between in humanities (and perhaps it would be even a bit harder after not making the contacts you'd make by being physically present during the PhD...)

TheWizardofWas Sun 04-Feb-18 23:36:57

If humanities, once every 2 to 3 weeks, plus going in for visiting lectures now and again would be doable. Always preferable, I think, to be more closely involved with reading groups etc, but not everyone is.

Wildestflower Mon 05-Feb-18 09:03:52

Thank you all. It's in the humanities. I'm already working in a profession and am doing this mostly out of interest and partly because I'd love to teach (in addition to continuing in my profession) and this seems the best route.

bibliomania Mon 05-Feb-18 16:41:45

I'm doing my PhD at the other side of the country. My supervisors are fine with meeting by Skype. I was able to do a 2-week summer school in the university on two occasions, and that helped a lot with research design.

I'd say if you're in the right field, it's doable (although who knows, I haven't actually got the PhD yet!). It helps to have access to a local university library. I think I have missed out a lot by being so out of the research community. If you want to go on to be an academic, you should be doing things like developing your network/getting teaching experience etc while doing the PhD, and you can really miss out on this side of things if you're at a distance.

MountainsofMars Mon 05-Feb-18 19:25:18

If it's in the Humanities, it's doable. But ...

I've supervised PhD candidates who've lived near, or who've lived far away (in the Humanities), and those who are moving forward into being ready to apply for permanent academic posts have tended to be those who live in the same city, and were able to participate in the teaching & research of our Department.

They learn a lot about the profession by simply being here, coming to research centre meetings, research seminars, being around to do teaching and so on. lIving far away won't stop you doing some of these things, but it won't give you the immersion in academic life which is part of the professional preparation a PhD gives you.

You also won't have as much support from peers and colleagues because you just won't be there. Contrary to popular myth, Humanities academics don't hide away in garrets writing the key to all mythologies with no human interaction! We may write in solitary bliss but that's often quite rare time. In conceptualising & developing our work, we work collaboratively.

You'll need to be very organised & proactive to make sure you find ways to get this kind of interaction and collaboration.

allegretto Tue 06-Feb-18 23:13:41

I finished my PhD last year in a university 1000 miles away! I went there initially to do some research modules for a few months but mostly I just did supervision via Skype. I definitely missed out on a lot of opportunities doing it this way and I still feel that there are a lot of aspects of university life that I don't really understand, but I didn't really have much choice due to family and work circumstances. So, if it's your own option, I would go for it.

Wildestflower Wed 07-Feb-18 16:15:59

Thank you for all your helpful responses. I've decided not to apply for this particular opportunity, but am going to apply to an unfunded place closer to home. I really appreciate all the advice.

MountainsofMars Wed 07-Feb-18 17:21:29

Hmmmm. If you are looking for an academic job at any point in the future, a funded studentship is always going sit on your CV better than self-funded. In the UK, at any rate, where 1st jobs often come with the requirement that you are able to seek external funding, the PhD studentship is the first 'external funding' you apply for & get, iyswim.

So something to weigh up against the distance, and concerns about that.

Wildestflower Wed 07-Feb-18 20:49:51

Thanks for that. The advice I had today in RL, was that I could apply for an unfunded PhD and then apply for funding once I'd started. Is that a very strange route?

HardAsSnails Thu 08-Feb-18 19:57:31

Wildest I'm in the first year of a part-time self-funded PhD at a university 170 miles away. So far it's fine and we arrange supervisions to fit around other relevant events, and chat by email. It suits my way of working and in my field lots of the networking is done online.

My plan is to try and apply for some funding once I've progressed a bit.

Wildestflower Thu 08-Feb-18 22:10:39

Thank you. That's great to know.

bibliomania Fri 09-Feb-18 10:52:02

I've been doing part-time self-funded and was turned down for funding when I applied after starting. Obviously that might be on the merits. Someone told me that it would be hard to get funding - the school/department would be more likely to support a funding proposal that will get them another PhD student - they've got you anyway. I've no idea whether that's just a cynical take on things or reflects reality (or both!)

I didn't chase funding that hard, tbh, after than one effort. I've secured funding in other roles (for university-based projects), and I decided I'm not keen on pursuing an academic career.

Wildestflower Mon 12-Feb-18 09:34:42

Thank you. It's a risky plan, but knowing the risks, I think I'm still going down that route. It is really kind that you've taken time to post. These posts have helped me make my mind up and understand the pros and cons.

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