Thursday, June 22, 2006

Big Decision

I realized I haven't posted about this yet on my blog, but I made a big decision.

I'm not going into academia.

At least, not the research side. I would consider going to a teaching school. I just don't like the research process. I'm great at coming up with ideas, terrible with the followthrough, and I hate all the details you have to take care of to produce good research. I think my talents are better used elsewhere.

After the whole "certain professors don't want to work with you" fiasco, I did some thinking, and I realized that I didn't want to go into academia. Not just didn't want to go, but really felt that if I went into academia, I would be ignoring my own best counsel, much like I did when I decided to go into a Ph.D. program to begin with. I have always done best when I have listened to my inner voice and ignored what everyone else around me was saying (because usually my inner voice contradicts all the other advice that I get). I basically decided that just like I have resisted pressure to follow a more traditional path in the past (not that my life is so non-conformist, but I did take paths that my teachers, parents, etc. didn't always expect me to take), I need to do the same now. There is incredible pressure to go into research, but I have to stay strong and resist. My advisor and committee are not the people who are going to live my life, and I need to do what makes me happy.

I had decided this before my big retreat, and I had made a commitment to myself that I would talk to the professors at the retreat. They are both lecturers, but one (FormerAdvisor) was tenure track for six years, and decided not to go up for tenure because she didn't like research. The other lecturer is someone with 35 years of professional experience. After he retired, he went back for his Ph.D. I thought FormerAdvisor would be helpful in giving me the moral support that I knew I wouldn't get anywhere else (except for DH), and I thought that the other one would be able to help me see the professional benefits of a doctoral degree, which is something I am having a hard time seeing right now.

Turns out FormerAdvisor left academia for pretty much the same reasons that I don't want to go into it. We have pretty similar personalities, so this just confirmed my confidence in my decision. The other professor wasn't as helpful in terms of encouragement (I don't think I made my question clear enough), but he said that we should talk again, and he has lots of professional connections with whom he can connect me.

More later.


orangepaas said...

Yes, Yes, and Yes. I'm totally with you, mostly because I've made the same decision for myself. Except I don't want to teach, either. I just want to be someone's lab monkey... Good luck with your choice!

Gina said...

I made the same choice as you regarding not going into academia and research. I don't know what field you're in, but I'm a clinical psychologist. My research area was neuropsychology, and I disappointed my advisor by deciding I liked helping each individual I was testing rather than gathering the data. Like you, I love coming up with ideas, but hate the detail and the follow through. It's been 28 years and I've never regretted my decision. I've had a great career so far, and with much less stress than academia would have brought me. So I support your decision all the way!