For anybody that hasn’t seen or looked at PhD Comics, I recommend you start at the beginning at work your way through. I’m trying to figure out if I should get my PhD in the future. I’ve already read a million AskMe (metafilter) questions on it, and I even skimmed the obligatory So You Want To Get Your Doctorate guide at Borders*. But this post isn’t about all that.
This post is about the 26 pages of threads I’ve been through. Not 26 pages of one long thread. I’m talking 26 pages of thread listings. 26 out of 77. For clarification purposes:
You go into a forum, you see the list of topics. You’re interested so you pick a couple topics and read them all the way through. Each topic is a couple pages long. You go back to the main page and click “Page 2? at the bottom of the forum. Rinse, wash, repeat until page 26.
For this monstrous task, I have to first give thanks where thanks is due:
- Thank you Firefox, for being my browser of choice and so-darned pluginable (yes, pluginable).
- Thank you Greasemonkey, for making available so many more user-contributed plugins. (And before I finish with point number three, let me point out the “Sup dawg, heard you like…” meme possibility here.)
- Thank you Auto-pagerize, for being one of my most favorite Greasemonkey scripts ever. It detects new pages and auto-inserts them into the page you’re already in.
I didn’t want my cute little numbered list to look really long, so I stopped babbling about Auto-pagerize….but, it’s the greatest thing ever. Forums are always one page long, threads are one page long. Blogs are extended. I never click “more”, I never click “page 2?. It only extends the page when you scroll down far enough. It is excellent!
I probably picked on-average about 5 threads from each page. I’m guessing I read around 130 topics. Some topics had multiple pages, but there general thought was pretty much understood after page one. It was confirmed on page two, etc. Here’s what I’ve learned from reading through 26 pages of thread topics:
- A lot of people don’t do their doctorate in their undergraduate field. Granted, a lot of people were in similar professions, but it was interesting to see how many people stepped out of bounds. I originally thought you had to go in with a lot more.
- People seem to say it takes more than 4 years these days. It was hard to find a whole lot of computer science PhD students, so it’s hard to say how that will affect me. Then again, I might not even be studying CS (see point #1).
- I should start studying for the vocabulary for the GRE now. I read technical books and non-fiction business bestsellers. I need more vocabulary. I should start studying for the GRE now. As an aside, you should totally check out The Personal MBA. Awesome reading list
- Research experience is (part) king. Research experience as an undergrad shows you have the stuff PhD’s are made of and didn’t just figure out how to play the school game. I’ve cooked up a plan to graduate Stockton in the fall (hopefully), and somewhere in there I’m going to need to work an independent-study in. GRE scores seemed like the other king here.
- I should probably take the CS GRE specific test. The general consensus is “GRE specific tests aren’t required.” However, I’ll be coming from a local, relatively unknown school. A good score on the GRE CS-specific test would help show that I still learned my stuff. Unfortunately, everything I looked at said the CS GRE subject test was impossible. Go figure.
There were other tidbits too: research gets lonely, picking your thesis topic, and a lot of other stuff. I’ll have to keep looking around for more information. Hopefully this summary can benefit somebody in the same position as me.
And of course I didn’t forget: everyone said getting a PhD is hard. I believe it. I’m pretty good with stress though, and I’m sure it’s intense — but I’m up for it. Or I think I am. I just did 26 pages of PhD research, didn’t I?
*This actually isn’t the title of the book. It is, however, probably published by the College Board.