Student - August 31, 2017


Stijn van Gils

The idea is: a big party, especially for me. Some people compare it with a wedding: you are marrying science. I hear on the grapevine that my ex-colleagues have been working for some time to make my PhD celebration a great day. That is nice of them. Very nice indeed.

According to Minister Bussemaker and many others, it is important that PhD candidates make it to the finishing line. Not completing your PhD is a waste of capital. What is more, if you drop out it will always haunt you, say the people around me. Those who stop live to regret it.

Well, hooray! I’m nearly there. My thesis has been passed, and if I can just get through the graduation ceremony, I’ll be Doctor. Everyone I know is happy for me. ‘That is something to be proud of,’ they say. My mother nearly wept for joy when she saw the book.

I’m not proud. And I’m not really in the mood for a party. I have no wish to marry science. In the course of doing my PhD it became clear that I don’t fit too well in the academic world.

The first two years of the process were nice, and I learned a lot, but after that I started to lose faith in the usefulness of my work. And that did not blow over. Finishing my PhD was a slog and for me, the final thesis stands for all those unpleasant memories.

Now I’m done, I notice that my self-confidence has diminished and I’ve become less flexible. I see potential problems everywhere I look. I am less spontaneous, whereas that used to be my strong point. Meanwhile I hear people at my new workplace say PhD graduates are less in touch with society. I don’t hear anything about the advantages of a PhD.

I regret finishing my PhD. If you ask me, that was a real waste of capital.

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