To Ph.D. or not to Ph.D.?

posted Jan 17, 2012, 9:56 AM by jj pionke
So, recently I was idly thinking about my future (let's be clear, it's hard not to think about the future in my program where I am only here for 2 years and everything that I do is aimed at getting a job when I am done, but anyway, I was idly thinking about my future) when I realized that with getting a Masters in Science in Information from the University of Michigan (a research one institution) that I would have a much better shot at actually getting a Ph.D. than I have ever had in my life.  This thought precipitated a bit of a panic about could I pull off a Ph.D. and what would I do with one if I did get it.  I landed up having tea with a student affairs person yesterday and it really helped me clarify some thoughts that had been running around in my head.  What I've landed on is that I am going to finish what I've started here (obviously) and then go on the job market and work for a year or two.  If, after two years in my job, I feel like I am unhappy, then I will re-examine the Ph.D. aspect and think about yet another career change.  My friend pointed out that if you are going to get a Ph.D. you do it to teach or work in a think tank.  I'm not smart enough for a think tank but I could teach and I really enjoy teaching.  I've been burned out on teaching students that are at best attentive and at worst apathetic, rebellious, and actively retaliatory.  I also couldn't keep teaching the load that I was teaching.  It just wasn't sustainable.  A Ph.D. would allow me to get a job at an institution where I didn't have to teach 6-8 classes just to survive (on not enough money and no health benefits).  It's something to think about.  I'm on this library path right now and I like the path I am on.  Maybe thinking about the Ph.D. is a way of letting go of the past?  I will always identify myself as a teacher.  It's part of who I am, but I think that letting go of the part of me that is a full time teacher is something that I have to do.  It's not my top priority anymore - being a librarian is.