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Any mums on here studying pt higher degrees?(3 Posts)
Going back to uni to study for a part time doctorate in education alongside my 0.8 teaching job.
Just wondering whether there are any other mums (or dads!) who have / are doing this and can offer any advice / tips / life hacks to survive the next 6 years?
Hi OP, I finished a part-time PhD last year, alongside ft work and being a single parent to one dd.
I think everyone's experience is quite unique, so any comments I have are really more for my younger self rather than anyone else!
- It's less about the intellectual demand (persistence matters more than genius) and more about the psychological demands on you. If you're applying for a PhD, chances are you see yourself as someone good at the academic side of things. Prepare to have that turned on its head and to find yourself utterly, painfully aware of your limitations. If you've gone through a Masters, you've had the ego-boosting sense of literally "mastering" what needs to be known. But now you've got to figure it all out for yourself - it's like being confronted with a vast, unknowable ocean of information. You don't have to conquer it all, but just to work out the navigable routes (and be able to justify why those routes and not other ones).
- Linked to the above, I found my relationship with supervisors more challenging (might be a personality thing). As a Masters student, I felt like a non-expert talking to experts, who were encouraging whenever I said anything reasonably relevant. As a PhD student, I felt like a wannabe expert talking to experts, who were much readier to smack me down.
- Make a big effort to be part of the research community. When you're part-time with other responsibilities, this is hard and I did not do it properly. If you're teaching at the same place, this isn't an issue. If it's a different institution, be aware that out of sight is out of mind. I was physically around for my Masters and, without deliberately setting out to network, I got to know people and be known, which led to some great opportunities. I assumed it would happen during my PhD, but it didn't because I wasn't there. If I were starting again, I would choose a campus that I was physically closer too and I would spend more time there, and leap at the opportunity of every conference.
It was all rather more emotionally painful than I expected. A year down the line, was it worth it? Still not sure, to be honest!
Thank you. There's some really good advice here. It's really encouraging to hear that it can be managed alongside parenting and work.
I will definitely make sure I get involved with the other research students, and that's also really good advice about my supervisors.
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