Friday, April 27, 2018

Disadvantages of PhDs

What is the dark side of PhD?

Here are some dark sides of PhDs.

Impostor syndrome. You feel that you are not good enough. You always question yourself.
Tunnel vision. PhDs are trained to become expert in their fields. With such intense focus, PhDs may end up being experts but not know much about other things. For me, I used to have lot more interests before the PhD but after PhD, well, I just really like my research.

Mental illness. There is depression and other kinds of mental illness. Lot of PhDs are super stressed! It is not good for them or their loved ones.

Health issues. Many PhDs sacrifice their health. Many just work with not much exercise, rest, or good diet. That leads to pretty bad health outcomes.

Overly critical. As a PhD, we are taught to analyze and break things down. That is good for research but not so good for real life. I have seen friends argue over simple things just because they could not take a joke but instead had to systematically break it down. In spousal relationships, I have heard a PhD student tell his wife why he is absolutely right by breaking down the argument and doing something like a full presentation. That did not go well for him.
Bias! Most schools teach their PhD students in certain ways. This creates lot of bias. For instance, market efficiency people will literally think that market irrationality people are not smart and even crazy. Because of training, PhD students may have certain strong biases.

Opportunity cost. Many people forego lot of income and fun because of PhD. I know people that could have been VP if they did not do a PhD. They literally give up a lot of money and fun.
Despite all these negative issues, I still enjoyed my PhD. I learned a lot. I learned how little I know. I became more humble. I also learned how to question things and do my best to answer interesting question.

Along the way, I made good friends and I got good life lessons from professors and staff.

So although the PhD was quite intense for me, it was worth it for me.

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