Saturday, November 13, 2010

Evaluate yourself: Are you a suitable candidate for PhD?

The attrition rate for PhD programs is about 40 percent which indicates that there is a lot of wastage of resources in terms of money and time.  As there is a large cost involved in teaching a graduate student and often PhD students are provided assistantships, millions of dollars could be saved if the universities were able to choose only those candidates who are going to finish the doctorate degrees. However, this is not an easy task due to the lack of well defined parameters which could perfectly assess the probability of a candidate going to complete the degree.
A research study finds that those who drop out were almost as good as those who completed the degree at least in terms of the Graduate Record Examination and the undergraduate degrees. The attrition rates are higher for social sciences than sciences. The dropping out is also bad for the students because many of those students who leave the program never had experienced failure in life before and they may take a long time to get over with it.
Then the important question is, what makes a student to leave before the completion of the program? Obviously this is not a straightforward question as there are lots of factors behind this. First of all, PhD is a long time commitment. Normally it takes more than 5 years to complete a PhD degree and sometimes 7-8 years or even more.  Hence, before joining a PhD program one must ask himself this question: Am I dedicated enough to give 5-6 years of my life for PhD? Money is a factor too. Even though most of the PhD candidates are provided with assistantship, the stipend is significantly less than the salary they could have earned if they were in a job. Not only that stipend is sometimes limited for a given number of years usually 5 or 6 years.
As far as Economics PhD is concerned, the average completion year for economics PhD is also 5-6 years. Given one is ready for the time commitment, the next issue for an economics PhD is the amount of math work he thinks he would be able to do. An economics PhD student must have adequate knowledge of mathematics in order to successfully complete the program. Not that one has to be very good in mathematics but has to be open to learn mathematics and must have a mathematical aptitude.
Economics PhD is probably the most difficult PhD in social sciences and one of the toughest among PhD’s in all streams. Hence before applying to PhD program in economics, make sure to evaluate yourself for the time commitment and hard work requirement in order to complete the degree. Because if you drop out in the midway you have wasted some of important years of life and this also drives your morale down. Remember most of the times students leave not because they are not capable enough to complete the degree but there are other reasons which are not academic or very less academic than personal reasons.

Check out "Self-assessment: Are you a suitable candidate for PhD?" for further analysis. 
Please do comment, follow and leave your concerns to drive my morale high.

1 comment:

  1. >Why do you think so and why are you thinking of dropping out? Before dropping out make sure this is the best thing that you can do.