This week has included a lot of thinking on top of the planning and painting. Thinking is sometimes good, sometimes bad. On Friday I lamented with a few friends over just what future had in store for us. I chatted with my dad about what I’m doing after May. My wife and I had a long future-based conversation last night. Today at my dad’s Rotary club meeting a few people asked where I was headed. I don’t know.
For a long time I wanted to be a high school history teacher and nothing else. It was college that pushed me in about twelve other directions. I like teaching. I like history. I also like human rights, politics, international relations, government, aid work and travel. So I need to parse these things out. The one thing I’m really sure about is that I want to get a doctorate.
I have a big word document that lists all sorts of programs and schools, financial aid and research centers. I know I want to continue learning, and I know I want to get an advanced degree. Between the humanities and social science I can’t really decide where to narrow my focus. Plus, where do I put all of those other interests? Do I try to mix and blend? Will that make me into a traveling scholar who does aid work? A government staffer on international relations and human rights? Maybe I’ll just try to get my own cooking show.
Seeing as how I have my eyes set on some sort of advanced degree, and seeing as how I’m just now wrapping up my undergraduate degree, I have some time. That said, decisions made now (or soon) will determine what I do for a long, long time. From conversations with various professors over the last two years, and a heart-hurting article in The Chronicle and some insightful, albeit less than optimistic blog posts, it will be a long, long road. Do I want to be a college professor? Yes. When? In what? Hell if I know.
Do any of you have an idea of what you’re going to do? Better yet, if you are a PhD student or a post-doc, any advice that’s not an outright deterrent? I’m graduating in May and it’s a big, challenging world out there.
In making a decision about what sort of PhD program to go into, I would recommend looking to see what the requirements are to finish your degree. Here in the biology world you have to do a ton of research and conduct experiments, and I suspect something similar may be the case in social sciences (maybe just observational studies rather than manipulative experiments, but it is a science after all). The humanities on the other hand are almost certainly less experimental-based research. So I guess part of making the choice is what type of work do you want to be doing for the next 4+ years, and identifying what skills that work will provide you with versus some other type of program.
As important as it is to pick the program that is going to best prepare you for whatever you decide you want to do down the road, you also want to select something you aren’t going to hate. Grad school can be incredibly challenging and is a dramatic step up in work load even from a packed undergrad schedule, so better to stack the deck in your own favor from the get go. (My advisor likes to say that if you don’t still love what you’re doing at 2 am, you should rethink your direction.)
Social Science and Humanities programs (as far as I know) are packed with research and collaboration. I’ll have to pick a fairly narrow topic and then beat it to death with either analysis or inference, respectively. I am fairly confident in saying I will love academia even when the drawbacks and painfully obvious and the benefits are nearly nonexistent. That said, it’ll be a long and tough road and I’m wondering if I should be starting now or wait a while.
I know people who went your way and went to school right through, and I know others who took time to gain work experience. I can’t decide which path to take, but I also can’t decide what type of work to do if I choose the latter. I just need to hardcore weigh my options, talk to Kim, and probably flick a spinner or something. :P
Thanks so much for the input! We’ll see what the verdict is, one day.