21 December 2010

To PhD or not to PhD?

The Economist and Chris Blattman discuss.

One of the problems facing potential applicants is the impossibility of impartial advice. Almost everyone who has / is doing a graduate degree tells you that it is worthwhile, and almost everyone who does not tells you that it is not (with the notable exception of the embittered Economist correspondent). People are quite understandably prone to rationalising their own big important life decisions.

Objective data on earnings doesn't really help as earnings aren't exactly the point. Is there any research on the happiness / life satisfaction returns to graduate study?

5 comments:

Boredinpostconflict said...

Cognitive dissonance - Those who have done a phd need to justify the fact that they have just spent (wasted?) years doing something and so they add value to the phd. Those who haven't done a phd need to justify the fact that they may have missed out on being smarter than their practical current self.

Roving Bandit said...

That's what I meant to say. Only better.

Matt said...

Really? Poll people around my department and you will find a reasonable degree of ambivalence. Even if it was black and white - you don't need cognitive dissonance to explain it - just pre-selection. (Why did you buy chocolate instead of vanilla? .... because I like chocolate more.)

"Is there any research on the happiness / life satisfaction returns to graduate study?"

Probably, but would you believe it? Do we dare apply these metrics to other interventions?

Anonymous said...

I think many who are driven to obtain their PhD's are there because despite the long hours, shitty pay and crap work that goes along with it; they are drawn too deep into their subject to turn back... and they just want that paper so bad they can taste it. It means "respect".

Boredinpostconflict said...

Do I really like chocolate more? Or are am I just saying that to make myself feel better after such a tough decision?.....that guy who chose vanilla looks like he is REALLY enjoying it though. But no, your right, chocolate....definitely chocolate, I prefer the extra dose of serotonin.....i think.

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