Tuesday, 21 April 2015

So You Think You Could Do a PhD? (in humanities)

This highly accurate quiz is for you, aimless student, finishing your MA but still not sure what you are going to do with your life and therefore feeling like hiding a little longer in the skirts of Academia.

·         Are you generally good at being self-motivated? Can you make a schedule for yourself and stick to it? (That does not mean making a pretty timetable with all the colours so you can bask in its beauty whist you do not follow it). Even when no-one outside is going to check on what you are up to? Or kick you out of bed? Or prevent you from reading blogs? If the answer is yes, you get one imaginary point.

So pretty. Such colours. 

·         Can you chit-chat with people at conferences? Do you enjoy organising events? Is networking the stuff of life as far as you are concerned? Can you resist free food in order to make important contacts? Give yourself three imaginary points.

·         Are you planning any major, life-changing events, like a wedding in the first year and the gestation and birth of a human being in the second? Do you think it’ll be fiiiiiiiine? Subtract 30.

·         Are you willing to watch STEM PhDs get offered a second iPad for no reason whilst you have to wrangle with all the admin staff so they agree to subsidise you one pencil? Do you promise not to hate the physicists too much? You get half a point (because you are lying).

Not for you!

·         Can you resist reading one more hilarious piece of source material about sausages to concentrate on making sure you know all the current scholarly discussions on your topic? You get a point. You are also a robot.

·         Are you willing to revise, re-revise, and re-re-revise your article until it fits with the half-baked effort the Renowned Scholar you are sharing the journal issue with, re-hashed from his previous book? You get lotsa points. You hero you.

·         Are you able to use supervision time to have productive discussions and plans of action to accompany your progress? Will you resist such tempting subject matter as: parsley, cricket, whether husbands should crush their wives fingers in car doors, the rudeness of Parisians or hilarious undergrads' quotes? Two points.

Fascinating stuff.

·         Can you work in the office, encouraging all around you to type, type, typity –type, with only one scheduled break for a half-sandwich (or a cup of tea, obviously, but that doesn’t count)? Will you promise not to watch old episodes of Blind Date or a live stream of kittens? Or WWII videos about the correct posture to avoid fatigue? You lose two points. You are not taking this test seriously enough.

·         Whilst marking undergrads’ papers, can you read the sentence “So-and-So had many siblings, which explains why he advocated for the war” and not share it with the rest of the office, because, technically, really, you shouldn’t? Would you object to the setting up of a Seminar Student Bingo? You get points, but you’re also no fun.

Count up the points. If you get to, say, a few, you are probably alright to start a PhD, although you probably also have no idea. But hey! None of us do!

Anyway, what do I know, I quit in my second year.