27 and a PhD

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Daily Archives: August 19, 2010


My two cents on the overproduction of PhDs

Hello fellow readers! It’s me, finally writing about on a science/grad school topic. If you’re a fellow tweep or reader you already know that I love to stalk read the blog of Dr. Leigh. Turns out she’s writing about all things pharmacology over at Scientopia. I decided to go around Scientopia and read an entry or two there. Then, I saw an entry that caught my attention immediately. Rob Knop writes about the Overproduction of PhDs based on an article (great by the way, read here) written by a prof at U of K that appears on the Inside Higher Ed career advice section.

For a while I’ve been thinking that based on the huge amount of students that enter grad school right after undergrad, whether for a Master’s or a PhD, it seems to me that two things are happening: A) some of them don’t have a clue of what they want or are getting into and/or B) their profs have told them over, and over, and over again that the academic path is THE path to follow if they love science, and since many hands and minds are needed they’d better head over to grad school and MUST do a PhD and MUST become a PhD and land a tenure-track position in order to be successful.

That type of advice is partly why I based my decision to go to grad school. Back at my old school the “counselor” was a hack. Seriously. That woman had no clue whatsoever of what type of advice to give, other than give up on chemistry 101 if you’re failing or falling behind and either become a doctor (MD or PhD) if you’re doing a degree in science (biology or micro) because as a plain biologist you may get paid pennies and then go on and live like a hippie with long hair and unshaven legs. In high school I didn’t receive any counseling either. But I chose to do a BS in Biology because I’d always been intrigued by science and by the human body and I wanted to become a surgeon. Notice a chain of disasters? Luckily for me I a) enjoyed doing my degree, b) did internships in other schools during the summer to learn more techniques and get some hands-on experience on topics such as DNA fingerprint and blots and doing gazillion gallons of buffer. (more…)