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To do a PhD or not..

(6 Posts)
georgyporgie Tue 19-Mar-13 09:38:35

Have been browsing through all the current threads about PhDs with a baby and found them really helpful. But, as usual, still wanted some advice from people who have been there/ done that.

Situation is that I started a PhD in law/politics about 8 years ago- ended up withdrawing after a year as got a great job lecturing & researching & the aims of what I wanted out of PhD study changed. So I understand the time commitments and admin that goes into doing a PhD. Anyway, my job came to an end, just as I found out I was pregnant actually, so started maternity & maternity allowance. I've been applying for PhDs now, and have been accepted to a number of programmes & universities (though not with funding. Grrrrrr. GRRRR!). These are at least an hour from home though, so heading up with a baby probably wouldn't be practical for supervision and things. It seems impossible for me to get a job, despite my lecturing & research experience as unis seem to want a PhD as a pre-requisite, understandably. So in order to continue in the career that I want, I'll need to do my PhD, funded or unfunded.

I think we can probably stretch (just about) to covering the course fees, with the hope that I might find funding or GTA style employment at some point during the course. My questions are a) is there any financial help available for postgrad (fulltime) students with a baby (he's 6 months- will be a year by the time the PhD starts) b) realistically, would I be looking at setting aside about 3 days a week without mini georgy to devote my time to it sufficiently and c) if this does happen, considering an au pair- does anyone have any experience in this?

Just really hard at the moment weighing it all up- means we'd be without two incomes again until I found some funding or suchlike, but I need to do it to get to where I want to be!

Any thoughts on my musings would be much appreciated grin

DancesWithTheEasterBunny Tue 19-Mar-13 09:43:01

Do you want to be an academic as a career or can you get a good job without it? Is the PhD actually necessary?

I have to be honest and say nothing beats the title though, I've been Dr Dances for 13 years and I still get a kick out of it.

georgyporgie Tue 19-Mar-13 09:57:05

Ha, Dr Dances, I bet you do! I loved being "33%" Dr Porgie when I was doing my original PhD. (nb- this was said once when utterly ratarsed at some kind of outdo each other conference. I did not usually go around stating this)

I actually want to be in the university environment. Been working in in since graduating from my masters, and I love the research, proposals, projects and lecturing (which is what I was doing prior to the contract running out- was working on a european project & "casually" lecturing for two years). Also, the area which I work in is fairly niche, and doing my PhD would really set me up to begin as an expert (well, obviously I wouldn't be one of these for ages, but it would allow me the grounding to be I suppose)- and builds on the work that I did as a researcher. The autonomy of it is really exciting to me. So yes, I think the PhD is. Just really really hard without funding though. I've also noticed that it's also very hard to get back into the academic environment once you've left- almost as if the doors close and you're standing there knocking away in the cold once you've actively chosen to leave it. I was just full of optimism that the contact network would still be in place and it wouldn't be too hard to find funding or a job alongside the PhD. How wrong I was!

DancesWithTheEasterBunny Tue 19-Mar-13 10:06:36

Well I can't answer any of the questions you asked in your OP, but it does seem like Yes, you must indeed PhD. I hope someone more helpful than me comes along with answers for you - mine was done and dusted long before I had the DCs, and was done overseas so in a completely different system.

You aren't wrong about the doors shutting though. My PhD is almost completely useless now except for impressing people and flipping a bird to anyone one being condescending as I stopped working in academia and starting teaching in order to have DCs. So 10 years out of the field and a country change no academic institution will touch me with a barge pole. I think i'm going to have to go back to Uni eventually and do another masters in a similar field (mine is dead, it was obsolete, it was killed by genetic engineering) just to get a foot in the door.

georgyporgie Tue 19-Mar-13 11:46:17

It's been lovely to muse about the general world of academia though, even if the original questions have fallen by the wayside (anyone! Help!) grin

ooooooOOOOoooo.. doors are slammed, aren't they? I still keep in touch with my former colleagues (&friends) but as you're halfway out, some young upstart which will be me, ME! soon pounces and slams the door behind you, usually giving a Dr Evil laugh of glee, so I can't fault it I suppose envy . Just makes me need to get back into the nepotistic bosom of academia ASAP. The masters idea is actually a really interesting one- gives more time within an institution to find funding for a PhD but knowing my luck all the deadlines for masters funding have passed. Plus, I suppose I wouldn't really get much out of one due to my previous masters and my work so trying to sell why I should get funding for one probably wouldn't work sad

Miffytastic Wed 20-Mar-13 12:43:27

Hi! I can try to answer A & B from my experience

a) depending on your household income you may find that your tax credits go up, as any bursary money you get isn't counted as 'income' so your h/h income looks less. However, tax credits for childcare don't kick in as youre' not working. There should be info/support at your student union about any hardship funds or sources of help for parents
b) 3 days might be OK, but with evenings too . I have done the odd bit of p/t work and I know lots of people who are lecturing too. I think the aim to do 35 hours a week, however you fit them in is a good one.

no experience of C sorry

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