Just Frances

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Switching faculties

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 by Frances Ryan.
Tags: school, phd, goals

From the beginning of my university career, the goal has been to get my PhD. It was a no-brainer, really. I love school, I love studying, I love academics. I am fully in my element when I’m learning. The road has had many more twists and turns than I could have imagined, but the (academic) destination has remained the same.

Since completing my master’s degree with a better-than-hoped-for mark, I have been even more passionate about the goal. But, recognising that I don’t have much money (OK, any money) I also knew that for it to become a reality I would need to make sacrifices. Of course, at the time I first recognised that, I thought the sacrifice would be the precise research project I undertook—or the university at which I chose to study. (These things, of course, would be determined by money.)

And that resolve to get my PhD at all costs led me to a meeting this afternoon about a funded PhD project that one of my postgraduate professors told me about. It is about social media in professional careers and is very much something of great interest to me. After speaking with the project’s lead today, I am so very excited about the idea—and very keen to read up on several topics we discussed so that I can put my best foot forward on my application to the programme.

But I’m hesitating.

Not because I’m not interested in the research or the project as a whole, but because it would be based in the education faculty, as opposed to media or communications. And that means that I would have a PhD in education. And that means that my professional academic career would most likely be based within education faculties rather than media or communications faculties.

I am so torn. I am very excited about the research and the potential that this opportunity may hold for me, but I always imagined that I would be a doctor of media studies—not of education. I don’t know what this switch would do for my long-term research interests. Or if maybe I’d find a new passion.

I’m also torn because I know that if I don’t start a PhD within the next year, I probably never will. And I’m torn because this is a PhD that will pay me to study (well, I’d have to come up with the difference between domestic and international tuition). And I’m torn because I worry that I can’t let any opportunity pass me by.

Now, to be honest, Glasgow is still my first choice. A PhD there would be based on my desired research, rather than the research framework of someone else (even though it’s research I’m very interested in). But, if I can’t come up with the £75,000 that Glasgow will cost, I can’t enroll.

I have until June 21 to apply for this back-up plan, which means that I have a bit of time to consult with my some of my wisest friends and former educators. It also means I have a bit of time to do some research into the life of an education professor/researcher to see if that’s a life I might want to live.

In the mean time, I will keep looking for ways to pay for Glasgow. (I have a great idea for that, which I hope to share with you very, very soon!)

(Input on this dilemma is welcome!)

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